Posts Tagged ‘Random’

If you see something, say something: just few random thoughts on Robin Willams

August 12, 2014

At the cube farm today a few people passed judgement on Robin Williams and suicide. For various reasons (ok, mostly one), I didn’t bother to speak up about the lack of maturity. I chewed on my lip and thought how lucky they were.

Yeah, you read that right. Lucky.

Only somebody who has never watched another struggle with major depression would say something that stupid.
Only somebody who has not felt the smothering lack of energy where even brushing teeth seems like a monumental task would say something like that.
Only somebody who has not curled up looking for a sliver or a moonbeam to cling to would say something like that.

The absolute tragedy, is, of course, that yesterday thousands of people yesterday killed themselves. One person’s death filled social media spaces. We do a lousy job about talking about mental health. We talk about it after a tragedy for a few weeks and clamor for more funding and less stigmatization. Nothing happens.

Probably because we don’t want to admit it’s us.

We don’t want to admit we are the ones who have fought demons with the help of medication and professionals.
We don’t want to admit that there are times (still) when the mountain seems to be without a trail.
We don’t want to admit how hard the battle was because there is still shame in the battle.
We don’t want to admit that we know it could have been us.

I don’t know what drove Robin Williams to suicide. I know what its like to sit in that darkness and not feel. I only hope he has found his peace.

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Peanut butter sandwiches and other strange things I’ve heard

March 23, 2014

I sat at my desk and tried to book a flight to Knoxville around two storms that were about to converge on the greater Boston area. A few co-workers were checking various options when it became apparent to everybody something horrifically had gone wrong. As tears streamed down my face, a friend said her mom died and we are trying to figure out the best way to avoid flight delays. One of the guys I work with looked at me, he’s about 24, and said I don’t know what to say. But I can make you a peanut butter sandwich because you might get hungry and not want to talk to anybody at the airport or something. I think I shook my head. I know I didn’t leave with a peanut butter sandwich.

I wish more people offer peanut butter sandwiches. Like anybody who has had a loss that isn’t quantifiable, dumb comments abound. I wish I could say “oh, they’ve never experienced the loss of a parent, spouse or somebody intrinsic to their life, they don’t understand the numbing feeling that fluctuates from time to time.” But when a 24 year old knew that he didn’t know what to say? I’m short on giving people a pass. Especially those who I know have had such a loss.
Most of these were met with blank looks or uh-huh comments. But if somebody reads this out in web-world, just think before you offer advice:

1) I said I was going to my parent’s the first part of next month. A co-worker corrected me. “You mean your Dad’s since your Mom is no longer with us.” (Ok, note, my mother NEVER MET THIS PERSON so she was never with ‘us’) Give me a break. My parents were a couple for over 50 years. This one is going to take a while. Sometimes, I can catch myself and say dad where I’d normally say parents. It’s hard: and it is like turning a screwdriver in my gut. If I’m low on energy, I let whatever form of nouns fly.

2) “Wow. Your mom’s death doesn’t seem to bother you that much. I’d be devastated.” COME AGAIN? Let me describe my time since I came back to Boston. Go to work. Go home. Sleep for a few hours. That’s it. I made it to church once. I did a half marathon once. This is the first weekend I’ve even attempted to make my place not look like an episode of hoarders. I’ve been known to cry my entire commute. But when I’m at work, I try get myself into auto-pilot. Why? It’s easier. I’m devastated. I went to text my mom about Dayton upsetting OSU on Friday and caught myself.

3) “Your mother wouldn’t want you to be/to do x.” Ok. Probably. My mother didn’t do mourning much. But she also understood that people are different. My mother would understand that I would understand that things upcoming on my calendar would cause trepidation. The Final Four in Nashville, my nephew’s high school graduation, going to New Orleans. Places and events that she should have been present (or would have had a few texts about) but won’t be. It will be hard.

4) “Rely on God and His Plan”. Ok, that just stands on its own: my mother and I had the same views on “God’s Plan”.

5) “It could be worse.” Your right. I could have lost a child. (Ok, I don’t have one). I could have caused the death of a child. Wait. Fuck that idea. Just take that statement and shove it. Or if your are going to be so damn moronic as to say it IN my presence, you had better not BITCH about one DAMN thing for a year.

I know people don’t know what to say at times: I’ve seen the panicked look on faces when I say the word “Mom”. I remember probably looking the same way at times. The entire process is hard: life moves on; the good, the bad and the ugly. The healing comes in phases. And it is revisited from time to time: that is the nature of the beast. It’s just the re-visiting is less painful (or so I’ve been told). I know I’m less numb. I can’t decide if that is “better” (I know in the long run it is – I also know that being less numb is also making me less tolerant of stupidity). I know I can hold conversations with my siblings and my dad without dissolving into tears which was not possible for the past few weeks.

Luckily, most of my friends have offered various forms of peanut butter sandwiches. I try to remember that when the advice columns start.

What I’ve learned in 33 days

March 9, 2014

It has been a month. A month? Really? It feels like yesterday. It seems like a decade. At various times in my life as a corporate drone, I’ve heard “this is going to get worse (name of issue) before it gets better”. I hope this gets better. I’m making a list; partially as a gentle nod to my mom and mostly so I can remember. In no particular order:

1) Sadly, I have family and friends who have lost their parent(s) too early, too quickly, and/or without warning. I need to remember when they say “I get it”: they do. They may not get the complexity of a relationship but they get the watching Law and Order at 12:43 am while writing a blog post.
2) This sucks. It sucks because even in the hardest, most complex times of a complicated mother-daughter relationship, I knew, somewhere, that if I needed shelter, she would have welcomed me (and the cat collection) home.
3) I have wonderful, amazing, beautiful friends. I have people in my life who I have known since Girl Scout days who have made sure I’m ok. I have college classmates who reached out and continue to make sure I am ok. I have friend who DESPITE bad news checked in and kept checking in (person who turned me on to half marathons and your spouse, I’m looking right at you).
4) I struggle with the mitzvah’s. From the randomly strange to the sublime love (the asking if I needed a peanut butter sandwich as I tried to get back to Knoxville, to the making sure I had cash, to a pet sitter cleaning my home, to a friend spending 3 hours helping me remove 3 FEET of snow from my car, to the TSA guy helping me get through security), I have no idea to how to repay the kindness.
5) The pain, I am told, is a good pain. It shows the love. Ok, whatever. File that under one day I’ll understand.
6) As painful as this is for me, my grandmother buried a child, my father buried his wife. It must be worse for them. No matter the age, even I get that your child dying before you must tear you in a way that makes no sense.
7) I am lucky/blessed/grateful for my friends. The ones that just sent random insane texts to try to make me laugh, the ones who understood when I said “I can’t talk”, the one who listened to me babble for an HOUR while stuck in rush hour.
8) There are people who came out of the woodwork to show their love and support. There are people who never acknowledged my mother’s death who I thought “would always be there”. Both surprised me; one day, maybe I’ll let go of the anger regarding the second part.
9) My paternal cousins. You’ve been there. You know where we are. You’ve called, e-mailed, texted, Facebooked and poured wine into a glass.
10) I’m learning what is important. No crazy changes for a year: but I’m learning.

Next week March Madness starts. As crazy as my mom was for college football, she loved basketball. She’d call me: Are you watching Boise State vs Alaska-Fairbanks? (um, no). You need to be a student of the game! I’d laugh. I like my teams. She loved the sport. I’m flying back to Knoxville and will be attending the women’s Final Four in Nashville. In my fairy tale ending, it’s The Ohio State University vs University of Tennessee and it goes to 5 overtimes (I don’t care who wins). Or Uconn (then it better be UT) – my mom liked the program Geno runs in Storrs. I know sitting next to my dad will be hard: my parent’s and I would met for the Final Four in various locations even when things were hard in our relationship and have a good time. I know my Dad and I will have a good time. I know we will have a hard time. And I know we will have a good time.
This month has been hard. I completed my second half-marathon. I feel myself un-numbing from the death of my mother. I’m trying to remember the advice somebody gave me: one good step at a time.

Getting sick and other such dramas

February 19, 2014

It’s been a little over two weeks since my mom died. I’m fine at work. I become distracted by my excel tables, reports and general amusement. And then it stops. My last two commutes have been snowy messes which passes the time. My cats seem to be glad to see me (ok two of them . . . Sir Fluffy Butt remembers the cone and runs. He’s not afraid, just smart).

The bad thing? Aside from the unknown path of not knowing how I’ll feel hour to hour? I’m getting sick. It’s more a combination of digging out my car for two hours with help from a friend who rescued me from the Logan Express parking lot snow pile and the stress I’ve been under. It doesn’t matter how impractical it’s always been, when I’m sick I want my mom and chicken and dumplings. Never mind the decades that have passed since that happened, that is what I want. As I feel like I’m swallowing razors and itching my ears, I know I’m treading on dangerous ground. I know my Dad, brother and my sister would feign interest in my illness, it’s not the same as my Mom calling to make sure I gargled (I never did) and all of her other home remedies. The reality is I just want to curl up and sleep. I want my mom to know I’m sick and pity me (ok, she never really did).

I know in my heart that my mom died the way she wanted: quickly, at home with only my dad. Part of me (ok, a huge part) wishes we had the chance as a family to say good bye. Would it make it less sucky? I don’t know. Maybe we did at Christmas without knowing it. For all of the travel misadventures of my family, we were all at my sister’s for three days. We had fun. We poked fun at each other. We played some Wii dance game. We laughed. A lot.

I move from numb to angry and back again. Except I’m not really angry. The anger comes when I hear the debates about the efficacy of mammograms. A mammogram gave my mom 17 years. Cancer sucks. It is exhausting. I know my mom is finally pain free and at peace. It just sucks to be left behind.

I’m supposed to walk the Hyannis Half Marathon this weekend. My mom was all excited about it because it goes by the Kennedy compound and she wanted a picture. Who knows? Maybe I will.

Iceland, Poland or Vietnam: Seeking an Escape in 2014

January 4, 2014

So, I know I’ll need an escape mid-fall (read, after Labor Day when the airfares return to mere highway robbery pricing). I prefer to travel off season: I’m not that wild about packs of tourists (blame that on living in 3 (count them 3) tourist towns) stampeding and acting like idiots.

I posted the query to my Facebook page and Iceland seemed to be the runaway winner (also the closest given my New England location). I know I couldn’t pick three more different locations. Each one holds a certain allure for different reasons.

Iceland is more remote, rugged and geared to the outside (which might make it a better early May destination in ’15). I also might starve to death in Iceland given the 2 most popular sources of food being fish/shellfish and lamb (Kidding. Almonds travel well). The thought of being almost completely unplugged for a week is refreshing. Looking at volcanos, an iceberg and even an approved side trip to Greenland? Tempting.

Poland. Seriously the history of Poland is amazing. Growing up in the Chicago area (when Chicago had the second largest city of native Poles? In the world?), I can’t remember how old I was when I figured out Gdansk wasn’t on Lake Michigan. So much history, so much fascinating architecture.

Vietnam. I seriously haven’t explored Asia enough. I’ve always been fascinated by Vietnam. Part of me wants to go see the places I’ve studied. The country my dad where my father was deployed. I’ve wanted to wander the streets in part to see what we fought about (ok, don’t tell me it was that creeping communism idea). Again, I run into the deathly-allergic-to-sea-creatures aspect (again, almonds travel well). While I wouldn’t be unplugged in Vietnam, the time change will make it hard to find me! Of course, the oppressive humidity might leave me beat red without of control curly hair in under 20 seconds (but can it be worse than Hong Kong in May?).

I haven’t been out of the country in five years. I need to go somewhere new. Somewhere where I can just wander without anybody knowing me. Where I can explore a quirky side street or sit and watch people. Where there isn’t pressure to see something (aka, if you go to Paris you MUST go to the Eiffel Tower!).

So many choices. . . so many blank passport pages.

Wrap up from week 3: #PhiladelphiaMarathon #RunForAutism

August 16, 2013

I’m still a snail according to RunKeeper. . . I was hoping to move up to slug or oh turtle.  Last week (that would be week 2) was a disaster.  I let work dictate my life (bad) and on my one wog, wound up with a nightmare case of shin splints (bad).  Oh, and shameless fundraising plug.

This week, I finally decided to be a bit more logical in my approach.  I broke down and bought one of those green straps that I can use to stretch my hamstrings.  I found a better pair of shoes that fit my insane ankle pronation and I’m trying to balance a 3/4 inch leg length difference and what sort of trails/paths I need to walk on.  Luckily, the course itself is flat.  I’ve revamped where I wog from my neighborhood to a few other areas.  I live on the top OF a hill and most walks have hills which aggravate the hamstring/shin splint issue: of course, I thought of this today!

Strange lesson learned: I tend to eat better when I exercise.  I’m sure there is a logical explanation but I don’t even want junk.  It’s not in the “OMG, I know exactly how long I have to work out for to burn those calories” but simply not wanting junk.  I also eat less.  Ok, that is probably because I’m less stressed because somehow exercise makes me less stressed.

New additions to the chic training gear: replaced foam roller (thanks Lafitte), green strap, correct running shoes and a kitten.  Really, a new kitten.  Windsor but more on him later but he’ll help with agility training.

Miles Wogged: 10.14 Tu-F.

Realization #1: I need to really work on the hamstring flexibility.  It’s completely related to the 25 or so odd surgeries on the legs.  They are never going to be balanced but I need to learn how to keep them from flaring (which, based on how I feel, I’m thinking walking in flatter areas is going to help).

Realization #2: I will always probably be a RunKeeper snail.

Realization #3: Sadly, I think I’m looking forward to the few miles I log after work to just decompress.

Realization #4: I’m a sucker for kittens with sob stories.

Best training advice: Figure out when it’s your brain saying stop versus your body.  If it’s your body, stop. If it’s your brain, tell it to shut up.  (Thanks Tim!).

 

2 nieces, 2 cats, 1 box. I quit. #catspam

May 22, 2013

I had one simple task today. . . . wrap birthday gifts, place in box and mail to twin nieces in Oklahoma.

I'll ignore the fact you want me out of the box.

I’ll ignore the fact you want me out of the box.

This is my box.  Try again.

This is my box. Try again.

Wow, look, a BOX!

Wow, look, a BOX!

Maybe Lauren will take me as a present so I can stay in the box?

Maybe Lauren will take me as a present so I can stay in the box?

An hour later. . . a cat free box with presents for 8 year olds.

An hour later. . . a cat free box with presents for 8 year olds.

And yet, while making the mailing label, I find this.

You really think I'm giving up this box?

You really think I’m giving up this box?

I remember now why I shop on-line.

#Chopped. It’s what for dinner (adventures in cooking).

May 9, 2013

A few weeks ago, I spent a day helping a friend traitor to the cause pack her kitchen for her move to Austin.  Since I’m one winged, the most I could do was clean out her fridge.  We started talking about all those parts of/left over items that you use a few times and they get shoved to the back.  We both can, shop farmers markets and generally try to minimize our carbon foot print (her husband makes a wicked beer by the way).  Fast forward to a get well soon gift from a college friend who knows of my love of canning and quirky gifts.  The result ? 2 jars of beer jelly (you read that right, beer jelly) from a Brooklyn company called Anarchy In a Jar.  I have to admit, I was a bit perplexed.  I like beer, I like jam/jelly.  But along  the lines of I like chicken and I like peanut butter cups, I’m not seeing how they work together.

The only thing saving me at the moment is the Food Network.  I’m sick of daytime television as I am recovering from this Bankart repair.  On a whim In a moment of insanity, I decided to do my very own Chopped challenge.  Mostly to alleviate the fear of opening the jar of beer jelly.  For the record, beer jelly has a heavy beer taste with a sweet undercurrent along the lines of apple juice (which makes sense since they are the top 2 ingredients). I didn’t know any of this before deciding to use what was in my fridge to make dinner using the beer jelly as the gotcha.

Beer jelly, walnuts, spinach, horseradish sauce, pork chops, soy sauce

Beer jelly, walnuts, spinach, horseradish sauce, pork chops, soy sauce

So there are my mandatory items: all selected before the opening of the jelly (or reading the label).  Knowing that jelly can be a bit sweet, I went with something salty to try to balance it.  I prefer a bit of a kick so went with the horseradish sauce.  The meat is from the absolutely fantastic 8 O’clock Ranch  (really, if you are in their delivery area and don’t buy from them?).  The walnuts and spinach are from Wegman’s.  The horseradish was rescued from my friend. I used the gluten-free soy in my fridge but needed the smaller one for the pic.

I created a marinade of the jelly, 2 tablespoons of horseradish and a tad too much soy (I had to cut it with 2 tablespoons of local honey).  It probably should have been a jar of jelly and 2 tablespoons each of the horseradish and soy.  I had to use the honey to kill a bit of the salt.

I seared the pork on both sides on a very hot grill pan  turning 4 times (these were completely thawed boneless chops).  In what would cause the Chopped judges to take off points for creativity, I opted for a variation of a spinach salad.

Local honey, madeira vinegar, hard boiled egg, pancetta, Dijon mustard

Local honey, madeira vinegar, hard boiled egg, pancetta, Dijon mustard

With the meat resting, I chopped the egg and added it to the spinach and walnuts.  I cooked the pancetta (points off, it was a bit saltier than I expected).  Then deglazed the pan with the vinegar (around 2T and 1T of Dijon mustard).

Frying pancetta

Frying pancetta

Deglazing with mustard and vinegar

Deglazing with mustard and vinegar

I tossed the warm pancetta into the salad to get a bit of a wilt, tossed in the dressing platted  I’m sure I would have been axed (I forgot a starch; you know how those judges are).  But a ton of fun when trying to figure out how to use beer jelly.  And yup.  I contacted Anarchy in a Jar to see where I could get a few more bottles.  I’m really not in the mood to start making beer jelly.  But it is a great base for fun cooking.

May 012

Really glad I was kicked off before the dessert round.  :)

From the land of Bankart repair with love. #notreally

May 7, 2013

Truth: I hate physical therapy. I’m probably going to hear from everybody I’ve ever known who is related to, married to, thought about becoming a PT. I like my PT. He’s quirky. I’m quirky. It’s a good fit. He makes his own beer and apparently made some huge tap/kegging system in the basement of his house.

PT is the test of patience. I’m not patient. I’m beyond not patient. I’m like I had surgery 3 weeks ago and why can’t my shoulder be normal now not patient. (Never mind it took a solid 90 minutes for the surgeon to clean OUT the debris before he could repair the labral tear). I’m frustrated and bored.

There is a downside for taking those mid-day appointments. I’m surrounded by the Real Housewives Of crowd and people old(er) than my grandmother. I was laying there letting my pt stretch my shoulder in the limits and one of his other patients came in and was waiting with her ankle encased in a heat pack. I wasn’t talking and trying to remember that key idea of exhaling on the stretch and he asked her how she was because I sure as hell wasn’t in the mood to talk.

PT: How was it last week after you left.
ROP (random old person): Well, I had a touch of food poisoning from something. And then, let me think, on Friday I had a root canal. Oh, and yesterday was the worst I
PT: (obvious this was not the right answer). Uh, xxxx, when I say how was it after last week, I’m talking just about your ankle.
ROP: Oh, my ankle? It’s fine. I just am having issues with (something even I won’t put on a blog).

Ok, I *get* that when you drop a few anchors in to the labrum, the not so patient patient has to wait for the anchor to secure to the bone. I get that I’m wildly lucky that the swelling has decreased a ton and there is more and more passive range. I’m somewhat twisted in that I’m happy that I get to line up an excercise ball that has Dora’s face on it and give her a few black eyes. I’d prefer Barney but apparently those kept disappearing.

I have no patience. I leave my 2x pt sessions frustrated because although the guy next to me who is 16 weeks out his Bankart repair was telling me the progress ramp and I can ‘see’ I’m on target (which for shoulders is the key . . . there isn’t an acceleration curve) and he’s there one day a week the same time as me. I get the creaking is normal. It doesn’t hurt it’s just sort of unnerving.

The little steps of using the arm bike with my left arm (holding on only with my right arm) is progress. I’m on a short(er than normal in PT) fuse. I wanted to rip the cell phone out of the hands of a scantily clad ring heavy enough to break a finger trophy wife of the metro-west. I get you are busy and have to take child to-from some random event. But I don’t need to hear about it. Text. Or better yet: that sign that says “do not use cell phones in treatment areas” follow it. (Her PT corralled her drama).

As much as I enjoyed the conversation with the guy who had a similar surgery, he’s facing two more months of PT. I wanted to cry. That’s my life right now. PT, ice, walking around the neighborhood if the shoulder is ok enough, icing. I don’t think I realized how much my non-dominant shoulder is involved in so much of what I do on a daily basis.

And I keep telling myself: Bankart’s are 6 months to return to pre-surgery. One month (almost) down; 5 to go.

Simply #bostonstrong

May 1, 2013

Along Boylston
Along Boylston

Make shift Memorial at Copley.

Marathon pic2

Marathon pic3

Marathonpic4

Marathonpic5

marathonpic6

Also at Copley.

marathonpic7

Re-glassing of Marathon Sports.
Marthon Sports Reglass

For the first time since the marathon, I had to be in the Copley area.  I snagged a few pictures.  I’ve always thought that make shift memorials were weird.  As I wandered around the one that has sprung up on the Boylston side of Copley,  looking at random pictures, quotes, I understood.  New Englanders in general don’t show a lot of emotion.  There were tears shed.  The ever-present car horns that are Boston were absent, nary a Duck Boat in site and the street musicians were absent. Copley has changed.  We are still struggling.  We need the satellite trucks gone.  Our farmer’s market needs to open on time.  We will heal.  We are changed.  But we are #oneboston.

I’ve lived here longer than anyplace aside from my native Chicago.  I’m proud to call Boston home.  And our city will only be better.  Because, to quote the incident commander, “It’s what we do.  We are better than them.”  We are #bostonstrong.