Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's Been Pretty Boring Lately...

It's been more than two months since I landed abruptly in my last "Jennifer Adventure." Crashed Viv.  Missed the (intended) marathon.  Upended plans that had been made many months before.  Affected friends and family, inconvenienced emergency services, held up traffic. Y'know...my normal routine.

That means I've been more than overdue for a jolt of some variety.  Last year, I spent my winter break dealing with the aftermath of the stroke.  This year I was hoping to prevent further brain and/or bodily damage.  But what could happen to me that would keep myself and my loved ones on our toes without burdening the health care system?

I've got it!  A financially crippling car issue!  Whew.  I was concerned that I might continue along with my lame, uneventful life with nary a story to tell.

But just as with the stroke, the heart surgery, the scooter crash and all the other ridiculosities that are carefully woven into my life, I needed to drag some friends into it. I need witnesses, after all.

Okay...okay...how's this?  En route to the airport with someone with connecting flights and shuttles to catch.  Pretty good, huh?  Alright.  Now, how?  Flat tire?  Nah, I can change one of those in twelve minutes.  Out of gas?  Those state roadside guys are pretty good.  That won't do.  Transmission failure?  Oh yeah.  That will prevent progress like nobody's business.

That was my Tuesday.  I picked up Mark's dad, Geoff (after I talked him out of hiring a shuttle) to get him to the airport.  About ten minutes into our ride, my tranny started slipping here and there.  I was quietly panicking, but outwardly confident that at the very least Hot Red Speed would get him to his flight on time.  We lost overdrive, but I was able to continue in 3rd gear for another ten miles or so.  Then it was clear that she wasn't going to get us to our destination.  I pulled to the side of the road, took a coupla deep breaths and assured Geoff we'd get him to his first flight on time.

Thank goodness for smart phones!  I was able to google a cab service near the airport who promised they could get Geoff to the airport on time (which they did).  I then wrangled a tow for Hot Red Speed. Waiting for the tow gave me a few minutes to call The Fab Miss Kristen for a mechanic referral (her guy has a guy). Arrangements were made.  We found our way back to our neck-o-the-woods.  Mr. X picked me up from the shop. Mark brought me lunch.

Hot Red Speed's gonna need her transmission rebuilt.  $1200 - $1500. Happy Holidays.
  • Coming soon:  Seeking Silver Linings.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Break Out

I made it to the other side of the semester. Alive. I remember complaining about last spring as though it was the meanest 16 weeks I'd come to know.  Turns out, Spring 2010 was Fall 2010's weakling kid brother.  That said, I'm growing weary of hearing myself complain about those five miserable classes, so I'll tell myself the same thing I have each time I exit my final final.  Next semester will be easier.

Whether accurate or  not, it is what I choose to believe to protect myself from implosion.

Here are some truths to back up my hypothesis.
  • I will be driving only two days a week to Warrensburg. That's $800 I won't be spending on gasoline and 80 hours I can dedicate to more productive activities...like sleeping and watering the houseplants.
  • The classes I'm taking are reportedly easier than those I just experienced.  According to the instructor, Medical Nutrition II is easier than Med I.  Supposedly the same goes for Advanced Food Systems Management.  Two classes are online, one at JCCC, and Community Nutrition has a reputation for being "a joke."
  • It will be my last semester of undergrad.  There is a piece of parchment and a cap and a gown and a celebration following whatever this term brings. "Celebration" should probably be in all caps, bold, italics and multicolored...and perhaps jiggling about the screen excitedly.  The end of this term calls for one heckuva party -- if only in my head. 
So I'm on my "break."  I have to immediately cram for my GRE and take it, hopefully before year's end. As I see it, that should give me a nice ten day vacation between crossing that milestone and wrapping up this adventure that should have ended many, many years ago. 

P.S.  I haven't forgotten about the whole public-humiliation-weight-loss thing.  Nor have my pants.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Riddled with Foibles

So as long as I score somewhere between a 35.2% and a 98.5% on my Medical Nutrition final, I'll end up with a B on my transcripts.  I don't know if doing the math was a good plan or a bad one.  It would be so easy to enjoy the other four As from the semester and take the next five days with nary a worry.

But a B?  Seriously?  Do you know how much I detest Bs?  Gaarrrgggh!  I won't have it!

While the spring when I took microbiology at the same time as organic/biochemistry was a bear, this semester has been some variety of yet unnamed sasquatch type creature. With rabies. And a stubbed toe.  You know how distressing a stubbed toe is?  Well, imagine being misunderstood and lonely out in the forest with rabies and a stubbed toe.  You'd be pretty mean, huh?  Yup.  That kinda semester.

One more week of presentations and finals.  Three days until I subject myself to the moment of truth test and challenge my reputation as a straight A student.

I'll be honest.  I probably don't deserve an A.  There are only a few select students in the class who get it.  They can listen, absorb, read, retain, and regurgitate.  I, on the other hand, look at an awkwardly worded multiple choice question and break out in hives.  Perhaps I would see the world and school and life a little differently if I weren't friends with The Valedictorian.  I certainly would be able to take a 3.0 x 3 credit hours with a little less panic were my old grades not so riddled with foibles.

But riddled with foibles they are, so study I must. Don't expect a peep out of me until after next Thursday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Show Your Mettle...er...Medal

I don't want to say this running thing has come full circle as that might indicate that I've come to a stopping point, but I do feel like a few dots were connected this weekend.

About a hundred years ago (or maybe just two), Mark (who was Wasabi Boy of the friend variety at that time) ran the Gobbler Grind, his first half marathon.  I was very happy for him (and a little jealous of him and a little lonely for him).  A few weeks later while I penned a New Year's Resolution post, I was inspired to declare my intention to run a half as well.  And Casey chimed in that I should shoot for Hospital Hill.

So I did.  I ran a half. At Hospital Hill.

This year while I was training for the full marathon, Casey kept me apprised of her increasingly severe addiction to running.  The day she announced she'd hit the 13 mile mark, I suggested she and I run the Gobbler Grind.  It would be a great excuse for us to reconnect after more than a year and a reason for my legs to keep going post-marathon.

So she returned to her old stomping grounds on Saturday with her two youngest in tow. The magical friendship that links our families has no regard for time.  While it had been more than two years (and several inches) since the kids had seen each other, the reunion was nearly seamless.  She and I fell into our own  comfortable rhythm too, excitedly discussing the next day's run.

We picked up our race packets, made dinner and enjoyed a nightcap with Mark (she approves).  The bedtime ritual was almost exactly as complicated as expected.  The kids showed no signs of slowing, but we knew we needed our sleep.  Play ceased temporarily while air beds were assembled...and one subsequently broke (the blower on my aerobed now sounds like a metal spoon spinning in a garbage disposal). The kids didn't care and we were growing weary enough that we didn't sweat the details either.  Kisses were distributed among the children and Casey and I quickly wrapped up our evening conversation (about 45 minutes -- our fastest time ever!).  A few hours later, my youngest took over my bed and hers commandeered the couch. The alarm clock was hardly as jarring as the pointy toes in my ribs, so I gladly rose to meet the day.

Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts made for a fine breakfast, as well as every runner's best friend, coffee.  Before long, we were out the door and on our way.  I was very excited to share her first half.  

Her mom and nephew saw her off at the starting line, and Mark greeted (and photographed) us periodically along our journey.  The first several miles were somewhat frustrating with narrow paths and no pace groups.  Lots of weaving stole much of my energy, but I held out hope that I could top my fastest half, if for no other reason than the lack of dramatic hills on this course.  Casey's goal was to cross the finish alive and faster than at least one other participant. 

While it holds no statistical significance, I did beat my time by fourteen seconds.  Then Casey finished alive and preceded a good portion of the pack.  I found Mark and Casey after the race -- two of my favorite people, two of my favorite runners, and two wonderful reasons I love running.

I'm pretty sure these two inspirational folk have a races left in their legs, and I hope they'll keep encouraging me to keep on truckin' just as they have in the past.   Running is by far my favorite source of sanity in an otherwise ridiculous world of homework and parenting and insomnia.  And while I'm not yet ready to give up  the homework, parenting and insomnia, there aren't medals given out at those finish lines.  Heck...I don't even think those have finish lines.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sticky Dates

Mark and I have a standing date of sorts.  Every other Sunday evening, we share dinner with his father.  Most often, we invite Geoff to Mark's place and we cook a meal, but tonight, he invited us to his.  He made a lovely meal of chicken baked with apples, green beans, and for dessert, a spectacular [gluten-free] sticky date pudding (*). It was out of this world.  In my caramelized sugar fueled food buzz, I said I might even give up chocolate having been introduced to such a magnificent concoction.  Mark brought me down from my ledge very carefully and  I'm alright now.  (If you have already ordered a Deluxe Chocolate Dreams jewel box from Harry & David for my xmas gift, please know that I will gladly receive it.)

But...sticky dates.  Funny that should come up today.

Mark and I have been together for a year.  Maybe as of tomorrow when we cemented our exclusivity.  Maybe as of two weeks ago when I sheepishly asked for his hand in renewed friendship.  Or maybe our friendship is the marker for our anniversary, which we could say started the day we broke up as a romantic couple the first time. Or maybe we should mark the date of our first kiss.  But what about the day our gaze first met over a loaf of freshly baked bread?  Or perhaps the moment we became official on facebook... (Yes, I do know every one of these exact dates, mostly because I remember what I blogged about on each of these occasions -- even the break up one, which had nothing to do with any sort of a break up...pride can be a bitch, you know)

I don't think I'm one to get up in arms about anniversaries, (though I could be mistaken).  Would I even know or care about this if I didn't keep my Mountain in reasonable order?  Possibly.  I guess what I'm getting at is that while it doesn't so much matter when we got together, it does matter that we're together.  The last twelve months have been the most challenging of my life scholastically, but by far the happiest personally.  Mark makes it very easy to be in love with him.  He's sweet and sincere.  Handsome and helpful.  Trusting and trustworthy.  Honest, responsible, gentle, intelligent, silly, competitive, fit, sensitive, strong, I could go on... 

So I'm taking this short break from homework to wish my sweetheart a happy anniversary...or not.  The date is somewhat sticky, after all.

* In my upbringing, "pudding" meant adding milk to a powder from a box, mixing it for a bit, and if we were really feeling crazy, we might add milk to powder from an envelope, whip it for three minutes and create a wonder of chemistry and physics called "Dream Whip."  (I'm not complaining -- this was quite a treat, but as the science junkie that I now purport to be, I have to wonder what on earth that stuff was). 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pulling My Own Weight

 This morning, I found this note tacked to my closet door:
Dear Jennifer, 
You're not training for a marathon anymore.  Please stop eating like you are.
Sincerely,
Your Jeans
There was another in my dresser drawer from my sweaters.  The profanity was so outlandish, I fear being fined by the FCC if I were to publish it.

I've spent most of my life mildly annoyed by my weight.  I guess it must have been the exact day that puberty hit, I left behind (or perhaps I merely ate) the skinny (I do mean skinny) girl I'd been for the previous fourteen years.  The transition from a firmly padded bra to generous underwires was almost instantaneous.  My "friends" jokingly called me "Skinny Jenny" because, well, compared to the other cheerleaders (sigh...alas, I am not allowed to rewrite history), I was not. (Let me assure you, I'd happily go back to that size, but never, never those days).

I'm not fat.  I know that.  But I'm not trim either.  And I'm frustrated that despite exercising five to six days every week for the last year, my adipose stores have remained virtually stagnant.

What do I blame?  Food.

I love food. I love reading about it. I love cooking it.  I love eating it.   Food is so cool!  And mostly I love good food.  Healthy food.  Tasty, loaded with vegetables and exotic spices food.  But that doesn't stop me from eating -- or perhaps I should call it shoveling -- gross quantities of less-than-stellar quality convenience foods into my mouth at times. November's excuse is school.  The holidays will inevitably take the blame next month.

Call it stress eating.  Call it lack of will power.  Boredom.  An oral fixation.  You could even occasionally call it hunger.  I cannot seem to get a hold on my eating.

So I'm becoming a dietitian?  Seriously?  Talk about a case of, "Physician (dietitian - hey, they rhyme!), heal thyself."  As far as I can tell (and I assure you, I mostly still don't know precisely what I'll be doing when I grow up), I will be counseling patients who are verging on diabetes or coping with morbid obesity, telling them what to eat and when, convincing them that it will enhance their quality of life if they can make better food choices.  Then when they leave the room, I will stuff cheddar cheese flavored rice cakes down my throat like there's no tomorrow, justifying each bite until I'm dusted with crumbs, then chastising myself as I hide the empty bag under a couple of layers of trash.

I'm not winning any metabolic beauty contests either.  While it's clear that forty is the coolest age ever (though I'm guessing forty-one might outdo it), I know that each and every day my systems take one step closer to hibernation.  All of my spinning, running, lifting and stretching efforts won't stop the inevitable clock from ticking away at my ability to consume large amounts of food and remain only somewhat bothered by my mass.

So what's this all leading to?

I'm going to blog a sincere attempt at weight loss.  Ten, maybe fifteen pounds...we'll see.  I'm going to tell you numbers on scales and tape measures, heck, maybe even calipers if I can find someone willing to pinch my backside.  I'm going to use this education to which I'll be financially indebted for all eternity to assess my ideal body weight, my perfect protein portions and my just-right carb counts.  I'm going to put myself to work, making fun of myself along the way.

I wish I could say I had the time to get this rolling right now, but it will be at least a week before I can get my ducks in a row and my muffin-top (and I don't mean the tasty kind) measured.  Photos, ups and downs, food diaries, I'm going to try to be open here. 

Ahhh, public humiliation -- it's apparently my specialty.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Friendly Skies

After last year's Hell on Wheels, Mrs Diggs and I were unsure of how we would outdo ourselves (yes, it is a competition).  We discussed it on and off through the year and started getting nervous in August when we realized our holiday was just around the bend.  At a formal meeting of The Ladies Diggs in early September, I elected to show her a recent thrifty treasure -- a skirt set that reminded me of an air hostess in the sixties.  The concept for 2010 was born.

We each worked to piece together our costumes -- scarves, hats, shoes and more.  A couple of weeks ago, she sent a photo of her nearly complete costume and I grew excited.  I wasn't sure if it would make a bigger impression than two middle aged ladies rolling about a neighborhood on skates, but I could see its potential.  Pretzels were at the ready for distribution (I was surprised to be unable to find small packages of peanuts), as were a few small bottles of wine.

Then Mr. Mrs Diggs (sorry, Jack, that might be your new blog name) threw out the idea that a drink cart would really top things off.  This suggestion was rather last minute, and Mrs Diggs nearly dismissed it for lack of equipment on hand.  Mr. Mrs Diggs then reminded her of a small transport that holds her laundry supplies.

And we were well on our way to one-upping ourselves.

So while Mrs Diggs and I cackled our way through getting dressed (wigs can be rather funny), Mark and Jack assembled the cart. Sodas (including Tab), Old Milwaukee (it's vintage, right?) and some tiny liquor bottles were added to the mix.  Cups...ice...we were ready to roll. Mrs Diggs' youngest was the only trick or treater accompanying us -- my three were with Mr. X (my first post-divorce holiday disappointment) and her oldest went with school friends.  A few photos were snapped and we were on our way.

Mark, having never witnessed the magic that is the Mrs/Ms Diggs Halloween tradition (except as evidenced in photographs), accompanied us for a few blocks.  That was plenty of time for word to get around the neighborhood that two stewardesses were serving "refreshments."

By the time we made it to the hub of the precinct, we'd tickled more than a few funny bones and satiated our fair share of palates.  We even earned a tip!  The consensus among our thirsty patrons was that we were the best dressed adults that evening and that we should definitely make a return in 2011.

As the din in the suburb quieted, our drink cart lightened.  The last few ginger ales were passed out among a conglomerate of pre-teen boys dressed as cheerleaders.  To quote Mrs Diggs, "An empty beverage cart means it was a successful flight."  Outdo ourselves next year?  I can't imagine how.

But because history tends to repeat itself, I'm sure we'll come through with flying colors...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dead Weight Teammate

I'd imagine from an outsider's point of view, I might appear to be a decent teammate.  I'm guessing (and this is all pure speculation) that when it comes to choosing someone with whom to work on a project or assignment, one might think, "She doesn't seem to be stupid, and she always has a story, so...what the heck...I'll team up with her."  And (again, speculation), while I'm pretty sure I'm not stupid and I'm certain that I always have a story, turns out I'm a lousy teammate.

This semester entails an inordinate amount of group projects.  One in medical nutrition, one in advanced, one three-parter in food systems management and two in experimental foods.  This means a crazy sum of our senior grades depend on our ability to play well with others.

I'm really lucky in three of those classes to have been placed with/chosen by responsible, upstanding, organized, PowerPoint savvy students.  They, however, are probably beginning to think they drew the short straw.  Yesterday while working on one project, I was unable to find a single important piece of paper in my folder while Young Miss whipped out her detailed notes, syllabus and textbook, all the while tweaking the presentation as I scrambled to catch my breath.  And...sheesh...an assignment that I'd turned in via the net for that three-parter The Valedictorian and I have been charged with...well...the instructor returned it today.  Um...it's a good thing points will be awarded when the final draft is submitted. After The Valedictorian's fabulous additions to my measly contribution, she sent it to me, suggested I check it, make changes I thought necessary and then forward it to the teacher.  Naturally, I was tickled with her work, then submitted the project.

Ooops, I sent my first draft.

I have to wonder what the instructor thought when she read phrases like, "OMG. I forgot the name!" and "xx%" in what should have been an intelligible page of text. 

All that said, I can take comfort in knowing I'm not the worst partner in the dietetics class of 2011.  That title is reserved for one of my two teammates in yet another class (and two giant projects).  So while I quietly fume (but have been caught more than once in a full-on tizzy) about the gross ineptitude of that person, I have to hope that the same angry ranting isn't being done in my name.

May I please blame this on the stroke?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Long Run Deserves a Long Story

First off, carb loading is serious business! I managed about two days of it and (Mark will confirm this) after our (gluten-free) pasta dinner on Friday night, I was a jittery, energized mess.  It might have aided the run more had I enjoyed a solid night's sleep, but after a few hours of rest, my brain and adrenals went haywire so I excitedly watched the clock.  I guess it was about 5:30 when I rolled out of bed, enjoyed my favorite breakfast (steel cut oats, Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts, cappuccino) then Mark and I headed to the race.  Traffic on I-35 started jamming more than two miles before the recommended exit and I was relieved to not be at the helm. My downtown-savvy boyfriend navigated a superior route, we parked, then walked about 1/2 mile to the starting line.

We warmed up a bit before I kissed Mark "goodbye" and each of us navigated the crowd to find our respective pace leaders. There were just over 1000 marathoners, and a zillion other folk (or maybe 9,000) running the half and 5K, along with a pretty good contingent of relay runners, so I kept my eyes open for the green bibs and nodded to them in silent camaraderie.  We were the rarest of the bunch.  Or perhaps the craziest.

The first ten miles were pretty painless. (My bruises from the crash had apparently surrendered to my obstinate nature). The pack was thick until the half marathoners split off so I made a mental note every minute or two to stay near my pacers.  (Those pacers are amazing.  They give up their own time for the sake of helping a bunch of mostly-rookies make the best of their own marathons.  Very. Very. Cool.) I occasionally had to remind myself  to enjoy the city on this lovely morning. Downtown Kansas City is a neat place.  I was especially tickled when we cruised a site from a very special first date.  A handsome fella earned his nickname there...


Somewhere between "Hey, this is easy!" and "Hmm, this is getting hard," I spied Mark's dad, Geoff and dog, Ella.  I jetted to the side of the road and grabbed a quick hug from one and patted the other on the head (you figure it out) and kept moving, only with a little extra zing in my step.  High-fives and hugs are as good as glucose when it comes to fuel (though I wouldn't want to go without either of them).

Just as promised, the run became exponentially harder.  I knew there was a pretty steep grade that built up from miles 21 to 23 and found myself fretting over that.  I was also starting to get a little loopy (and that's such a rare state of being for me).  The water/Gatorade stops that were every two miles guaranteed an audience of delightful volunteers, so I'd chit chat a bit as I walked through them (the only walking I did over the long course) (don't try to run while drinking from a paper cup) (I learned this the hard way during my first Hospital Hill run).  A sincere "thank you" might have been accompanied by a quiet "this is kinda hard," or "by the way, this hurts!" telling them as though it was a well-kept secret only seasoned marathoners knew.  I wove my way over to a spectator who reminded me of my mom, told her exactly that and thanked her for coming to the race.  I'd guess it was at about 22 that I felt a bit of an energy surge at the same time my iPhone graciously played Proud Mary. So I sang out loud, channeling Tina Turner while running.  Those antics might have bitten me in the arse only a mile or so later as I slowed to a walk to grab liquid refreshment at the next station and my legs turned to jelly.  I felt a bit wonky and realized that my body was starting to break.

I knew Mrs. Diggs was trying to make her way to my kids and then to the race in an effort to give me a boost sometime before the end of my run.  I was doubtful that she'd make it on time knowing her morning obligations and the distance she needed to cross, but was looking forward to seeing the crew as I rested my legs.  After I passed mile marker 25, I thought I would see that finish line any time.  I mean, what's a mile? Nothin'!  But that mile Dragged. Out. Forever.  And as I turned a slight corner, I spied a crew of lunatics that
No one slays a dragon like Mrs Diggs
could only have been mine.  First I saw Princess Pearl's long legs and a big bouquet of flowers.  Then I noticed waving swords and guns and lots of hooting and hollering  My friends and family had come to help slay my dragons!  I grabbed super-charged hugs and kept moving.  Mrs. Diggs ran with me for a bit then I got serious again.  The end had to be near, right?

Finally, I saw the finish line.  Up a hill.  Seriously?  I had to run up another hill to complete this?  I trudged forward with what little remained in my legs.  Surprisingly, I heard my name, looked over and saw a summer classmate who had run a leg of a relay jogging by my side.  Sweet Amanda put a pep in my step that I would have never expected at that point in the race.  I was giddy to have been given such a gift and crossed the line with a huge smile on my face.  I was done.  I slowed to a walk.

The slower I walked, the more I hurt.  I hugged Amanda goodbye and found my sweetheart who had finished 17 minutes earlier.  We were limpy, gimpy pathetic folk who weren't much for company, but my cheerleaders had joined us so we did our best.  I was pretty giddy having done what I'd just done.  Mark was a bit bummed by his time and had hoped to run a couple of minutes faster (though his Garmin indicated he'd run 26.45 miles, so I think he technically hit his goal).  We eventually headed toward the car, which was akin to a million miles away (didn't seem that far just a few hours earlier when we parked).

Getting in the car.  Ouch.  Getting out of the car. Ouch. Three steps up to the house.  Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. We each grabbed water or food or something (I don't really remember. The brain fog had settled in) and then we sat.  That was pretty much the theme for the afternoon. Mark's second-born stopped by a couple of times that day and seemed amused by our sloth.  The second time he popped in, we'd migrated from chairs to the couch. "Oh, you moved," he chided.  We deserved it. We'd earned it.

The ache has now faded, but the pride remains.  Mark's friend of many years, Ellen, (who I knew from spin class before the three of us connected the dots) has run more than her fair share of miles and reminded me more than once during training, "Pain is temporary. Glory is forever."

Or at least until the sticker peels off my window.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I'd Like to Thank All the Little People...

Running a marathon is easier than childbirth.  And afterward, you aren't put in charge of another person for the rest of your life.  
--Jennifer Diggs, 2010

Admittedly, I'm feeling a bit full of myself right now.  I just ran a marathon.  A hilly, badass marathon.  And I'm farily certain that I am awesome.  Yup.  I said it. Awesome.

I told Big Sis a few days ago that running is the easiest part of my life.  (I soon corrected myself and ranked being Mark's girlfriend as the easiest part of my life, with running coming in at a close second.)  It is a wonderful distraction from my otherwise panicked life.  School, parenting, laundry...they all require thought (sorting socks is hard!).  Running.  I just go.  Slip on my shoes and go...well, slip on shoes plus two bras and then I go.

Anyhoo.  Let's get down to it.  I could never have made it to the cocky side of 26.2 without the incredible friends who make my life so darn fabulous.  From all those "atta girl"s when I bragged about each milestone crossed (it was getting annoying, right?) to a generous loan  for new shoes midway through training to those who kept me grounded while I recovered from heart surgery to a two-hour massage to rid my body of the scooter crash and ready it for a ridiculous run just eight days later, I'm the luckiest girl in the world.

So I now proclaim you to be more awesome than the awesome I'm feeling about myself (you're waaaay more awesome than you'll ever know), because without you, I wouldn't be sitting here looking like a giant dork with a medal hanging around my neck.

I might wear it to school on Monday.  I think it's high time we have Show-and-Tell in Experimental Foods.  And I'll tell them all about you.  Because you are awesome.

Friday, October 15, 2010

For Crying Out Loud!

I could blame it on the events of the past week, but I'm going to be honest here.  I've been on the verge of tears for a solid month...maybe longer.

School.  Sigh.  Each class has its share of stressors, but it's Wednesday afternoon -- Senior Dietetics Seminar -- that kicks my arse every week.  Sure, there's a gigantor term paper and presentation due soon, but what gets me is the whole "growing up" thing that I'm faced with every seven days.  Now, I adore my instructor.  I understand that this is not the consensus among my classmates, but I really do dig her.  She is incredibly intelligent, has an occasional sense of humor (which I enjoy tremendously because it's a surprise treat when it pays a visit) and holds great expectations for each and every one of us.  But each week we are faced with the realities of the career we've chosen and the seemingly impossible internship upon which it hinges, and each Wednesday my drive home (and it's a long one, folks) is filled with negative thoughts and self doubt.

Anyway...(I recognize that I have a propensity to ramble), back to the tears...so...this morning the kids didn't have school nor did I.   My Friday is usually a catch-up-with-school and volunteer-work day (I just remembered that I forgot to go to my volunteer gig. Ugh.) So we were all hanging out and eating and chatting when I decided to finally read a couple of links that Spinning Marcy sent to me after last weekend's not marathon.  The kids are in the kitchen, buzzing about this and that while I'm reading the chronicle of a woman (who loves food and running) who ran the Chicago Marathon last weekend with a few of her friends.  And before I knew it, I was crying.  I hid it for a bit until one of the kids asked me a question and I couldn't speak.  I then started weeping, trying to explain to them what had gotten me started.

Even when I'm out running, when I visualize crossing that finish line after trekking 26.2 miles, I get teary.  Heck, when I ran the two half-marathons, I got a little choked up when I realized I was part of a massive crowd of fabulous fit folk capable of shutting down a city for a morning.

Admittedly, the crying thing has been coming for awhile and I'm pretty sure I still have a solid 30 minute bawl sometime in the near future, but I think that tomorrow, along with my Gu and Snickers Marathon Bar, I'll tuck a hankie into my running belt.  With 12,000 likely participants, I'll probably be moved to tears before Mark and I make it into the parking lot.

And I really feel like I should warn my professor before our one-on-one meeting next Tuesday that tears will be part of the package.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Trading Up

I'd barely entered the office when a gal intuitively asked, "The Vespa?"

(I didn't correct her...Aprilia is a mouthful).  "Yes.  May I see her?"

She directed me to a garage not far away.  I could see her green fender from across the lot and hesitantly proceeded.  Seated in a lawn chair, a dusty man smoked his cigarette and humored my need to say "goodbye."  I'm probably not the first gal with an attachment to (and a name for) her ride.

At first sight, she appeared to be in reasonable condition.  Her "trunk" had been knocked off, but she still looked like Viv.  As I got a little closer, I could see her front end was misshapen and the fender that I'd spied earlier was only half of one.  As I slowly circled her body, I noticed a missing foot rest, a dangling blinker, numerous scratches and scrapes. She was clearly no longer for this world.  My eyes welled with tears and I rambled a bit to the old man.  Before long, he knew that I'd given her to myself to celebrate the final year of my thirties, that her name was Viv and that she and I had shared an adventure or two.  He reminded me that those good times didn't have to end, that I could replace her. But  I shook my head in doubt. Call it being a chicken.  Call it PTSD.  Call it coming to my senses.  I don't think I'll do it again.

When I was presented the opportunity to buy her, I was wholly single and had the means (by miraculous happenstance) to purchase her.  There was no one whispering in my ear how senseless a scooter would be to a mother of three.  I'd lived so many years concerned with the financial uncertainties of Mr. X's career and worries about keeping food on the table that I rarely indulged in extravagances (the exception being kitchen equipment...All Clad makes me weak in the knees).  I did the numbers.  I checked with the insurance company. I bought her. And she became a symbol of my freedom.

She was my favorite study break.  She took me to stretches of road that I'd not before driven.  She made me feel like a million bucks.  Sure, she was there when I found myself face-first in a pile of muddy leaves -- and she tried to leave me stranded once or twice.  Plus she was a garage hog.  But I could overlook all of those shortcomings. She was fast, sexy and sassy.

Now that I've experienced first-hand how dangerous life on a bike can be (and am completely cognizant of how very, very lucky I am that it wasn't worse), I won't buy another.  At least not for awhile...

...because I have another favorite study break who takes me places I've not before experienced and he makes me feel like a million bucks too.  After nearly a year, he's yet to leave me stranded at Whole Foods and has resisted the urge to toss me face-first into a pile of muddy leaves.

And while I can't fill his tank on less than $3.00 a week, spending time with Mark doesn't require a helmet or liability insurance.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

On the Road Again

Mark suggested a short run to knock out a few kinks as well as give me an idea whether or not I could handle 26.2 next week in KC.  I went to bed with the notion that I'd run two quick miles in the morning.  When I woke after a decent night's rest (thank you, Benadryl), I put the number "four" in my mind and decided to tackle my favorite hilly route.  And though my stride was shorter than usual and the bruise that sits at the top of my left hip complained with each and every step, my legs were in heaven.  As I approached the spot where I normally turn to head home, my brain, legs and bruise all had a serious talk.  And while the bruise posed a valid argument, my brain was easily swayed by the highly influential legs who had been planning on a much longer run this morning.  I kept going.

By then, the goofy grin across my mouth was wide and sincere.  I could totally see running next weekend.  I even questioned skipping this morning's marathon (it would have been a bad idea, but I specialize in second guessing myself).  I quickly remapped my training plan to squeeze a long-ish run into the next few days.

While my legs would have gone on awhile longer, I knew it would be foolish to go too far.  I also was without fuel or hydration, so I wrapped my run at just shy of six miles.

I'm icing my back right now and mentally preparing for a hillier trek than I'd anticipated during those long weeks of training.  And while it would have been fun to speed past a high school classmate or two on Route 66, I'm envisioning accepting a few more high-fives from the locals that make this life of mine so very fabulous and interesting when I run that marathon next weekend.

Don't stop me now...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

To-Don't List

The to-do list was long and detailed.  I only had a few hours in which to run errands, grocery shop, clean the van and study.  From carb loading to car loading, I had my hands full.  The marathon was just two days away.

Viv and I geared up for a fabulous autumn ride.  Heading down Johnson Drive, I was taking a green light straight through an intersection when I realized my bright orange helmet hadn't alerted another driver of my presence.  And his left turn took me out.

Even before I was thrown off the bike, my thoughts rushed to the marathon.  In those long milliseconds that I waited for my body to meet the pavement, my heart broke.  And when the driver of the car looked down on the wreckage and asked if I was okay, I could only respond with a somber, "No."

Soon there were more than a few bystanders with cell phones to alert emergency services and offer comfort. And as they asked if I could wiggle my toes and grip their fingers, I told them about the run I wasn't going to be able to complete.  The consensus among my amateur caregivers was that I'd be fine and there would be more marathons.  I knew this was true, but after eighteen weeks of training, I couldn't shake my disappointment.

My usual irreverent self resurfaced -- perhaps because I realized I had an audience -- and I was able to ask a bystander to leave a message for Mark, then take a picture of the madness with my phone for blog sake (she tried, but apparently wasn't successful.) Police and EMS were on hand within minutes (I don't think I was 1/2 mile from either of the stations) and before long, I was strapped to a board, neck brace and all, and took my first ever ambulance ride.

I was able to speak with Mark shortly after I arrived in the ER, sincerely apologetic for ruining the race plans that we'd made so long ago.  He quickly corrected my thinking and reiterated the song and dance that everyone surrounding me had chanted.  You'll be okay soon enough. There will be other races.  It could have been worse.

I tried to keep my wits about myself.  When they cut my pants off, I let them know that I didn't like those ones anyway.  I thanked everyone who was nice to me (and that was each and every one of them) and I surprised them with my medical tales of ridiculosity.  An x-ray tech wanted to hear about my running addiction.  And when she asked if Greek yogurt was a good snack, I forgot my problems for a moment and excitedly told her which brand to buy and how with honey and walnuts it is an indescribable joy.

Soon enough, the neck brace and constraints were removed and I was able to call Mr. X for a ride home (with some clothes from Em's closet). Diagnosis: Contusions. Bruises and road rash (but not much -- I was wearing the sassy leather jacket Concert Katrina had given me for my birthday.) My left hip and hand took the brunt of the abuse.

Right now, I'm unsure of Viv's condition.  I didn't see  her after the wreck and don't even know where she is right now.  The police report isn't yet finished, so I don't know who hit me, whether or not he was insured, nothin.'  I'm sure I'll get details soon. And I don't know if I'll hop back on her saddle. I'll let some time come between myself and my injuries before I make any final decisions though.

I'm hoping the next few days bring great healing so I can continue my quest to finish a marathon sooner, not later.  And for those of you taking notes, I busted yet another New Year's resolution by landing in the ER.

I apparently signed up for an adventure when I entered this lifetime.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pretty in Pink

Hardly looks like a Mountain of Laundry up there, huh?  Well, today was one of those days when I needed to step away from the dishes and the homework and the laundry and...well...put on a vintage pink gown and take Viv out for a spin. I'm sure everyone does this now and then. 

Otherwise, mostly the same ol' same ol' 'round these parts.  I've hit that portion of the semester where I'm fairly certain that school is trying to kill me.  By the looks of my syllabi,  this feeling should subside shortly following finals (unless school really does kill me).  Of course, that's when I'll have to study for and take the GRE.  No biggie.  It's just my future.

The kids are well and fine.  I keep feeding them.  They keep coming back.  Emily appears to be thriving in high school. The boy turned eleven on Monday.  Audrey has requested her blog name be changed to Princess Pearl. 

Mark and I will be running the Mother Road Marathon in just over a week.  The training schedule is tapering and I feel like I'm cheating.  This morning's six miles were a piece of cake (the weather could definitely be a factor) and my "long" weekend run is only eight.  I guess I'll make up for all of this slacking next Sunday.

So back to studying.  Viv is safely tucked away in the garage and the dress has been carefully returned to the Closet of Eternal Joy and Happiness, where they will be at the ready when I need them again.

...which could very well be tomorrow.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Reality Check

At 4 a.m., my eyes popped wide open and my heart was racing. I hadn't had a nightmare. There was no thunderstorm. The cat had not delivered to me yet another sacrificial chipmunk. What had happened? I woke up in reality.

So much of my life is spent comfortably suspended in my everything-is-gonna-work-out-just-fine world, that I have forgotten, more or less, how to handle the real stuff.

So just for kicks, let's catch up on the back story...Divorced Mom of three sets out to create a new and improved life for herself and her children. An increasingly circuitous journey, two years to a degree have birthed the need for a year's internship, which now potentially calls for yet another year to complete grad school. Divorced Mom is surviving on student loans and tenacity, both of which are in short supply at this time. The 14 year old mini-van that takes her on the 140 mile round-trip four times weekly is showing signs of age and wear (much like its owner). And all the while, Divorced Mom is descending into the depths of challenging senior year which will require pulling from next years allotment of tenacity and an unknown source of cashola.

So, back to this morning's reality bite: School is getting pretty intense...just as it should right about now, I suppose. The professors are preparing us to apply for those coveted internships (without which, we cannot become dietitians) and the reality that 50% of my class will be left with a degree but no avenue by which to become an R.D. I'll be honest, I sit in my senior seminar class and look around, placing imaginary pluses and minuses over my classmates' heads, making assumptions as to who will get accepted into a program and who won't, hoping those doing the same see a "+" hovering above me. This internship stuff is a really big deal.

Oh, hey, did I mention that these cost money? The two in the KC area (accepting a total of 24 grads from across the U.S.) each run about 8K. Add to that living expenses...sigh. Reality.

So I keep telling myself that I wouldn't have started this journey were I unable to finish it. And deep down I know it will all work out absolutely fabulously. But at this very second, while I'm unsure how I'll pay the bills through the end of the year -- let alone next year -- I'm in a self-pity panic.

I suppose I should go buy someone a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bet Your Bottom Dollar

Today while I waited in line to pay for my coffee refill, I noticed something I've never before seen at the shop. The gal behind me was also getting a refill. Odd? Well, most of the students are ordering toasty bagels and/or fancy-schmancy frozen coffee drinks (which is precisely why there is a line for me to stand in before I can pay $1 for my cuppa.) Anyhow, I don't know quite what it was that made me do it, but when it was my turn at the register, I paid for her refill too. I don't watch Oprah. I haven't read Pay It Forward. I suppose it just seemed like a fun little social experiment to run at that moment.

And you know what...as moved as this co-ed was by my action ("That's the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me!"), the buzz I got from paying a whopping dollar for her coffee was far more intense than that of the joe I bought for myself.

And then I felt like I had cheated.

What was intentioned as a kind gesture toward a stranger ended up making me feel really good. Now, I hope she felt a warm fuzzy or two throughout the day because of it and will do something of the like, though I'm guessing that her emotions were more along the lines bewilderment than the joy that I experienced.

And without going into my obsessive tendencies and how I might keep buying coffee after coffee for unknowing bystanders until the high isn't enough and then it becomes a need, not a want and the purchases get bigger and more dramatic all to feed my addiction....oh wait, I'm living on student loans. Never mind. I won't be paying for anybody's tank of gas but my own for quite some time.

Anyway...you should try it. Make a total stranger's day. I betcha a dollar you'll like it too.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Don't Stop Me Now

Since that post where I wrote, "I'm a senior!" and "I'm a senior!", I've given a lot of thought to the fact that I'm a senior.

There's a (little bitty, albeit occasionally loud) piece of me that seems intrinsically uncomfortable with the notion of my own success. I didn't realize this until just recently, as the light at the end of that long educational tunnel is becoming brighter every day. I'm well aware that the only thing stopping me from getting that handsome piece of parchment is me. And I don't want to do that, yet I have a skosh of doubt within myself that its the right thing to do -- to become successful, that is. It almost seems to go against the very nature of me to finally do something the right way. To get the degree. To secure the internship. To get the job. To give my kids the lessons and vacations and childhoods that they deserve. To allow myself comfort and security...and maybe even a new car (well, not a "new" car, but one with less than 150,000 miles and fewer coffee stains might be nice).

So today on my drive home from classes, I was scolding myself over this when into my head popped the Queen song, Don't Stop Me Now. And while I wanted to dedicate it to the financial aid department (oh, please increase my loan eligibility!), I decided that the real someone who needs to hear the message is me. (Alright, I just looked at the lyrics and the song as a whole isn't really applicable, but I'm sticking with the "Don't stop me now" part, as well as the "La da da da da"s, and if you really want to call me Mr. Fahrenheit, that would be a little weird, but not completely out of line.)

So tonight as I attempted to embrace my inevitable triumph, I passed by the fridge (ok, I was considering sneaking a spoonful or two of ice cream. Geez. Lay off, will ya?), I noticed a magnet that my I-don't-see-nearly-often-enough friend Scooter Hollie gave me earlier this summer. She said she spied it and couldn't help but think of me. It states, "The world is full of people who will go their whole lives and not actually live one day. She did not intend on being one of them." And in teeny print, "when faith in myself was so strong, I believed I could move mountains." And this kinda punched me in the gut. I mean, my friends can see it in me. Why am I running from it?

Happily ever after...here I come.

And as for those mountains...relocation services have been secured. Expect movement any day now.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mustard

Because there's no possible way for me to wrap up a month's worth of activities in a few paragraphs -- but mostly because I didn't remember much last night beyond the rather obvious updates -- I offer this amendment to the previously mentioned condiment.

Housing: I get to stay at Casa del Mar! The landlord was able to re-work his loan and is keeping the house and keeping me in it. Over the last several months, I've lived in a delicious state of denial, pretending I wouldn't need to leave, and it worked out fabulously. To not face a big move smack in the middle of school/internship is a huge burden lifted.

Goodbyes: No one told me that when I fell for Mark, I'd fall for his family too. His eldest moved out last week -- to Vanderbilt University -- and I kinda miss the kid. While Mark was surprised by his own strong reaction to the goodbye, I found myself reflecting on my [first] exit to college as well as looking forward to letting each of my Three Little Diggs fly the coop. I hope my kids will let me be involved in their secondary educational choices. And I hope they let me see them off. (I packed up the Maverick and moved away one day with almost no notice. Steve Norman had dumped me a few hours earlier, after all).

Sharing: Though Mom referred to me as "Share Girl" when I was little, that doesn't necessarily apply anymore -- most certainly not in the kitchen. But one day in an angry fit, I told the kids they were going to have to start contributing more to the management of the household. And the only thing I could think of at the time was to tell them they had to help with food prep. That temporary loss of sanity (bite your tongues) has resulted in some spectacular meals, as well as an exercise in stepping far outside my comfort zone. On weekends that the kids are with me, they each are charged with the planning and cooking of one meal. The other two have to take over clean-up for said meal. Empanadas, Chicken Tikka Masala and Pad Thai were our first big successes. Look for more fab food in the future.

Okay...now I'll get to work on that "History of Food Service" paper. Woo hoo?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ketchup

The ol' blog is not so much a priority these days, ya know...

In an attempt to catch up to a certain degree, I'll do a quick synopsis of the last month.

Chicago: Wow. Completely amazingly spectacularly fabulously fun. Mrs Diggs and I are kindred quirky spirits and both have partners who understand that our need to spend time with each other is just that -- a need. While Mark fits the bill for 98% of my social (and anti-social) tendencies, Mrs Diggs is the only person who understands the other 2% of me. I think Jack (Mrs Diggs' 98% fella) and Mark would have been astonished and embarassed by our ridiculosity. And I'm pretty sure they'll support future sanity getaways for she and I. And if they don't...well...tough.

Running: I'm back on track. My complete and total freak-out over marathon training getting derailed was all for naught. As per Running Jamie's suggestion, I switched from a rather intense schedule to the one she used for her first few marathons. And except for breaking the rules once on the last weekend of my may-not-run-longer-than-six-miles stretch, I've been obedient and am now just where I should be. I wonder if the snap-crackle-pop of my ankles is part of the plan...

School: Hey! I'm a senior! It should prove to be a challenging semester, but a fruitful one for the most part. I don't have a carpool partner, so the drives have been far less entertaining. But the classes are pretty cool and I'm really excited about my medical and advanced nutrition classes. I'm beginning to better understand the necessity of the internship in addition to a degree. I just don't think that without a big chunk of hands-on experience that a fresh grad would have it in him/her to be a good dietitian. I'm going to be a great dietitian.

Alright. Let's see if I can check in here a little more frequently again. If not, let me remind you once again: I'm a senior.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

School ended. I really want to do a cutsey little synopsis of the time spent getting an A in my cooking class vs. time spent getting an A in a nutrition class (sooooo not what I was anticipating) and how Running Jamie was a huge ray of sunshine (she likes to run, she likes to eat, she shared the driving burden) and how mid-semester surgery isn't completely terrible (except for the broccoli). But right now I don't have the time for that.

I finished classes on Thursday and have had the kids since then, trying to keep them entertained, feed them and squeeze in my runs while they sleep (woot!) This morning, however, I'm taking a bit of a turn from my pedestrian life.

I'm going to Chicago.

Several years ago, Mrs. Diggs and I decided we needed a girls-only trip. It was a cute fantasy at the time. Our kids were young and my future was in question (still in the marriage, though in definite doubt of its stability). We touched on the subject a couple of times since, but with me in school and living on student loans and uncanny good fortune, I figured we were a few years away from our fabled escape.

But on my 40th birthday, she gave me a vibrant purse. Tucked into the purse (which included the cutest pink flask!) was a card. And in that card was a poem. And that poem promised a trip to Chicago. I was blown away.

A week or so later, she hounded me for scheduling conflicts and before I knew it, a plane ticket had my name on it. And the date on that ticket is today's.

So I guess I need to wash of this morning's run, double check my suitcase and make muffins (it's Sunday, after all), take the kids to Mr. X's place and hop on a plane. Three days with one of my very favorite people promises to be riddled with ridiculosity.

Or maybe we'll just nap.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Whole Hearted

When Nurse Suzie called me to reveal which side of the study I'd fallen into, (in an excited southern drawl, "You're gettin' a device!"), she also told me that she and The Doctor had discussed my participation and both agreed that I was their favorite. Cheerful and open to possibilities and fun to be around (her words!). I grinned with pride and replied, "Well, I don't see any good reason to be crabby."

Fast forward two weeks...just a couple of days pre-op and I called another nurse to get a couple of details about the whens and wheres of recovery and visitors and whatnot. I don't recall which question led to this, but she told me that I couldn't do any lifting of more than ten pounds or so for a month. I quickly confirmed with a bit of incredulity in my voice, "A month?! I thought I just had to take it easy for a few days."

"No physical exertion of any kind for four weeks."

And it was in that moment that I lost my status of Most-Favored-Participant. You guys knew I was training for a marathon. I can't stop running for a month! What about spinning? And I went on and on and on until finally, Well, I'm not pulling out of the study just yet, but I am not happy at all right now.

She told me she'd get with The Doctor and call me back the following day. And I was in a tizzy for the rest of the night.

I sent a panicked text to Mark, then when he got home for dinner, I began hinting that I might ditch the study. I knew he'd been a proponent of plugging the leak all along, as were a fair share of my friends. He wouldn't say that I should suck it up, but calmly presented what he would do, and reported how he was not allowed to even break a sweat for a month after a minor surgery some years ago and how he wasn't able to run the first marathon for which he trained. I wasn't completely sold, but backed down from my ledge by a step or two.

The next day as I was driving to school with Running Jamie, she was bummed for me but agreed that stepping back from training wouldn't likely be the death of me. She even calculated that I could probably find a training program that wasn't quite as intense and still be ready for the 26-miler in October.

Unsure of how I have collected such sane and rational friends, I awaited the call from the nurse. By the end of class I'd learned that two weeks of taking it easy, followed by two more of mid-length runs and finally after a month, I'd have the green light for those long only-an-insane-person-would-subject-herself-to-this kinda runs.

And I was okay with that.

Who knew I was such a junkie? The very exercise that carried me out of my dead-marriage induced depression had become the crutch upon which my sanity leaned. Two weeks sans workouts was akin to a lifetime so far as I could tell, but I'd give it a whirl.

The surgery was Thursday afternoon, so my morning was class as usual, then home to gather a few necessities for my 2nd ever stay in a hospital (excluding the first days and nights of my existence). My parents came to town and Dad drove me to KUMed. Fairly soon after arriving, I was doing paperwork, then donning a sassy gown. Lots of poking, prodding, taping, recording and even shaving (they could have asked me to do that myself, y'know), and before long I was taken into the cath lab. I wasn't even knocked out completely and recall portions of conversations that bounced around the room while they were sealing my PFO.

Turns out, the 1-2 mm they had measured when I had my TEE wasn't precise. The hole was 5 mm in diameter, giving my loved ones another round of 'I-told-you-so's on the pro-side of getting patched.

I enjoyed the post-surgery anesthesia buzz for awhile, and soon enough, my beloved stopped in to see me, meeting the parents (for the first time) in the waiting area. Not sure what I said or if it made any sense, but I was really happy to have him by my side, even if separated by a buncha probes, cords and a big railing.

I then did something I hope to never do again. I was (more or less) still for eight hours. Two large catheters (a French 10 & French 11) had been inserted into my femoral veins and I wasn't allowed to move my legs until my blood had the clotting capability for them to be removed -- and then after their removal (which was sooooo-not-a-cake-walk) I had to lie still for another four hours so as not to disrupt the beginnings of the healing. I was also unable to eat until most of this time had elapsed.

And this is where I pretty much lost my mind. It was past 9 p.m. -- and the last time I'd eaten was at about 7:30 a.m. Some Greek yogurt (and walnuts and honey). That's it. I'd run six miles that morning, come home and had my cappuccino and yogurt. If you know me, you know how I adore food. Okay, it's more than just adoring food. I adore eating food. And finally after all of those hours, I'd learned that eating food actually served a purpose other than giving my mouth something to do other than talk. I learned that eating is a fabulous way to nourish the body. And my body needed nourishment (or certainly wanted it). Turns out, if you tell the hospital that you can't eat gluten, they have very little to offer. Meat, meat or meat. And broccoli. But no sour cream. No soup. No salsa (!) I hesitantly requested a garden salad (mmmm....iceberg lettuce and pink tomatoes) and a baked potato. In retrospect, I should have accepted a hunk of meat, or even a grilled cheese on what I can only imagine was horrible g.f. bread, but the salad and the potato, along with broccoli are what I got.

By the time I was allowed to eat, I was nearing weepy. Then when I lifted the lid on the plate that had been delivered some three hours prior, I fell apart. The broccoli had disintegrated into a barely intact grey tree of doom and gloom. And I wept. Gigantic tears. And I was stuck. Three more hours of not moving guaranteed that my blubbering mess would be discovered sooner or later by one of the oh-so-understanding nurses. But I didn't want to be found -- I'm roll-with-the-punches girl, right? Alas, one of the night nurses came upon me. And even though she wanted me to be happy and I wanted me to be happy, we both realized that I just needed to get the overwhelming irrational sad out. So she brought me tissues and left me be.

By about 1 a.m., my usual insomnia relented and I rested a bit. Of course, at 2 a.m., it was time for a scheduled EKG. I then asked for a sleeping pill, and my adorable nurse wondered, "Would you like a pain reliever too?" Sheesh! Hospital grade food I can do without. Hospital grade pain killer...sign me up! I snuck in a few more choppy hours of rest, interrupted by the occasional bright light, cheerful nurse and even my own heart rate alarm (too low -- that's what obsessive running will get you). By 7 a.m. I'd been wheeled downstairs for an EKG (and saw my device in action), and by about 10, I was home.

So while I'd expected to be doing homework within hours of the procedure, I instead had a good 36 hours of low-grade misery. I have lived so much of my life in extraordinary health that a day and a half of not-feeling-great knocked my socks off. Not surprisingly, by Sunday morning, I was itching to run again, but had ridiculous amounts of homework looming and a cautious boyfriend keeping me grounded.

It's been a crazy busy week or so since then and I still feel fabulous. I've been taking long walks (in those ridiculous rocking shoes) and will return to spin class tomorrow. Thursday I'm allowed to run again. It will also be my last day of the summer semester, so I can only imagine by the afternoon, I'll be as giddy as a not-in-school-girl.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nobody's Gonna Rain on My Parade

I just had one of those "So that's how crazy I am" moments. I checked my marathon training schedule. Yesterday I ran 15 miles (my farthest ever, and yes, I patted myself on the back). Tomorrow I'm scheduled to run six. As I glanced ahead, I had to giggle. There will be school days that I'll be out the door by 5:00 a.m. to fit in my run, shower and carpool (whoohoo! I have a summer carpool buddy -- and she's even a marathoner!).

Actually, it was yesterday that I confirmed that I-am-a-flippin'-lunatic. The morning started temperate and hazy, as ideal as it gets here in the humidity belt for a July run. I made my toward some pedestrian/biker trails a few miles away and did my best not to count each passing mile. By the time I'd gone six miles, I noticed some lightning in the distance. I'd planned a turn-around anyway and hoped my breath-taking six miles per hour could outrun the storm. Really, what choice did I have?

Another thirty minutes passed and I began feeling the occasional sprinkle. Then the drops grew bigger and more sincere. Those of us out for our morning exercise traded sheepish grins. Sure, it's raining, but we'll be fine, our eyes told one another. And we all continued our treks.

The steady rain continued and I passed my opportunity to cut my run short. I wasn't gonna let a little drizzle keep me away from my longest-yet run. Off the trails and into some residential neighborhoods, I noticed the skies getting progessively darker -- and louder. The rain grew heavier and once I reached my turn-around point, I realized that for the last mile or so, a fairly strong wind had been at my back. It was a little less friendly face-to-face, but I kept on keepin' on. A nearby lightning flash and less than a second later, it's accompanying thunder alerted me that I was in the thick of it.

So I decided to run home.

The downpour was unrelenting at this point. And I ran. I found myself giggling as my shoes sloshed through puddles and the water washed away my sunscreen. And I ran. Cars had stopped on side-streets because visibility was so poor. And I ran. Streets were nearly submerged. And I ran.

The last four miles went by surprisingly quickly. I wasn't unbearably hot, after all. I wasn't particularly thirsty either. I was running new parts of town. And I was cracking up.

Once home, I dripped in the the threshold for a bit, then assessed the damage. Knees -- fairly angry. Quads -- ready to quit. Lungs -- reasonably content. iPhone (music source) -- on the fritz.

It had just been exposed to the equivalent of a day at the dunk tank. But I'd witnessed the revival of the same model once before. My genius boyfriend keeps a plastic storage container with several recycled packets of silica gel in the kitchen cabinet (for a long time, I thought he was working on a quirky collection or maybe just had a thing for silica gel). After a wet winter run, his phone acted up and he placed it in there for a few hours. Voila! Dry, happy phone.

I grabbed the container, put the phone in and crossed my fingers. My patience was tested, but by this morning, it stopped flashing ridiculous messages and could be used as an actual telephone once again.

So next time you get a new pair of shoes, don't toss that little packet o' poison. Keep it, find it a few friends and the next time your small electronics are subjected to unreasonable humidity, give it a try. The phone you save may be your own.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Finding Closure

Alright alright alright...as if you haven't grown to expect the beginning of any given semester to result in a long silence. You'd think that by now I would have learned that the first week is terrifying and then things start to fall into place. Nope. I think I'll let the next two semesters do the same thing to me. I'd hate to shake things up, after all...

Shake things up, you say? Okay. How 'bout surgery? Would that do it? A bit more than a week ago, I learned that I had fallen into the put-a-foreign-body-into-your-heart category of the cardiology study. I decided I'd write about it when I knew the date. And now I know. This Thursday. Scheduling within the parameters of the study as well as coordinating between two cardiac surgeons has me scrambling a bit. Oh well. Like I told a friend, it would hardly fit into my ridiculous life if it were as simple as taking an aspirin and filling out paperwork now and then, right?

So in a mere four days, I'll wake early, squeeze in my run, dash to school for a test, head back, grab an overnight bag and then stroll into surgery. One med center sleepover and I'll be home in time for lunch on Friday.

And then I'll return to my average, uneventful life.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Party of the Decade

Birthday Month is almost over. The big day has passed. I have been gifted and fed and loved. I think it's okay if you wish to resume your normal lives. I'll surrender the center of attention to someone else now. Really...it's alright.

I said there'd be revelry. And there was. Mark threw a party in my honor last night, and it was an absolute blast. My diverse group of friends gathered into some kind of melting pot (it was pretty warm, after all) and we noshed, drank and giggled until late in the night (my version of late might be a bit more tame than yours, but hey, I'm forty after all.)

Mark made a menu and did most of the cooking/prepping. I was merely his sous chef--and we put together an ample spread for our guests. Mrs. Diggs created the atmosphere, very 70s, with decorations and attitude. She was also charged with acquiring the cake -- the top layer was gluten free, and perfectly delicious. Guests included, but were not limited to, Spinning Marcy, Concert Katrina, Sparky & Billy, Fabulous Kristen, Hostess Treat Claudia, Joy Agent, The Senstaional Sarah Sutherland, Tattoo Steve -- many of these with their counterparts -- along with some previously un-blogged about friends. The yet un-nicknamed included Hollie, Karen +1, Deborah + 1, and Mark's father, Geoff.

As I said, they're a diverse crew. And while I did my best to circulate among the crowd, they did a lovely job of making new friendships in my little circle. They're my friends, therefore they're great people. Of course they're going to be good minglers.

The consensus among the gift-givers seemed to be that I might run out of wine sometime soon and many did their best to prevent such a tragedy. Phew! This is a great relief to me. And I won't get totally list-y right now, but I'll just say that while I wasn't expecting any presents (this is how poorly socialized I am, I suppose), I was tickled with each and every expression of friendship.

As the evening dwindled and the crowd thinned, conversations grew more intimate and the balloons donned my new underthings. I say this all the time...I have the best friends in the world.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Forty is the New Forty

Twice as good as twenty, I'm perfectly content at this age. I'm forty. I'M FORTY!!! Woohoo!

Very quickly (because I have homework and an early morning run)...today has been my best birthday ever.

I can only imagine that being head-over-heels in love contributes greatly to that. Mark jump-started my day with thoughtful gifts and sweet kisses. From there, I exercised, went to class, saw my kiddos and much, much more.

The next twelve months promise to be the most fabulous I've ever experienced. Off hand, I know I'll run my first marathon and graduate from college.

Everything else will be icing on the [gluten-free] cake.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Synapses Synopsis

I'm sure your days and nights are spent wondering when I'll author another post. You check daily to learn of my new adventures and insights, recipes and medical emergencies.

There are several incomplete posts in my archives -- and I have no intention of publishing them. This blog was borne of my need to vent, but sometimes just getting the words out of these fingertips is enough. I hardly want to burden you with the crap swirling around my head (and there's been an inordinate amount of it lately). What I have to say might hurt your feelings. Perhaps it's time I become a food blogger and leave all my personal juicy bits behind.

While I'm on this break between semesters, you'd think I'd have witty observations to share, but it's more like I sit, looking at the monitor, thinking, occasionally typing -- then deleting. Not up for sharing? Perhaps. Tired. Absolutely. Something better I should be doing? Did someone say 'laundry'?

So let's see...four weeks between classes...at least my to-do list is getting shorter. The kids and I managed to find the floors to each room in the house. Still waiting to learn which side of my PFO occluder study I've fallen into. I've started training for the Mother Road Marathon in October. Viv needs to get to the shop for a cough and ill behaved turn signals. I've lost a few of those seven pounds. And I blew New Years Resolution #2 and ended up with a B in chem. I'm reading a book that is of neither the text nor the cook variety. I'm crazy about my kids. I adore my boyfriend.

And that birthday is just around the corner. I'm anxiously awaiting claiming Forty as my own. There will be revelry.

Monday, June 14, 2010

On the Move

I realized very shortly after I took the big leap and moved out on my own that while getting a new place has its own set of burdens, it has a pretty good bank of advantages. Sure, one must set up utilities, get furniture and do all of that maddening change-of-address stuff, but there's a lot to be said for leaving behind those things unwanted -- all in the name of leaving the previous household intact -- for the sake of the children, you know...

It was a fabulous fresh start for me. I left behind the bulk of the furnishings and assembled Casa del Mar in my patented thrifty chic style. There are few remnants of my past life in my digs -- the kitchen being the exception. The only division of property noted in our divorce decree was that I take the culinary tools and he, the electronics. I had to protect my identity, after all. I was giving up nearly everything which I had previously used to describe myself -- Wife, At Home Mom -- I wasn't about to give up Cooking Junkie too.

More than a year-and-a-half later, Mr X is now getting his own fresh start. Weary of the rental house crumbling around him, he found a nearby apartment with generous amenities and ample space for he and the kids. This, of course, meant that I would need to help with some of that final clean-up... since I had abandoned some... okay... quite a bit of stuff.

I collected a box that he'd filled with miscellany, grabbed the estate sale "treasures" that had lost their charm over the years and loaded into the van some shelves that were in need of a good home. Mr. X reminded me of the 18 year old Asbsolut we'd snagged from the mini-bar on our "honeymoon" (yes, it really must be in quotes) and suggested we finally be done with it -- down it and close the door on that part of our lives.

So we did. And it was nasty. So we headed to a local bar and ordered something a little, um, fresher. We toasted the death of our marriage and each of our new beginnings.

And then we closed the door.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Heads or Tails?

Oh, yeah...remember that whole I-had-a-stroke thing I said I'd get back to you about...well....okay.

So I guess it was in January that I had a follow-up visit with my neurologist. He cheerfully went over the fine details of the event, commented on my boyfriend he'd met in the ER ("He seems like a good guy. You're still with him, right?") and inquired about my current semester's workload. After a few physical tests -- the whacking of the knee, the squeezing of the fingers and the closing of the eyes along with the touching of the nose -- he went to grab his attending to confirm all of the whatnots we'd covered. As they approached the door, I could hear excitement in his voice. They entered and he was smiling as he explained that the doctor on staff had been through nearly the exact same event as I had.

She explained that one day she lost the ability to find words. After awhile, all was better, so she ignored the signs and went on with her life. About four days later, she decided that as a neurologist, she should probably address the matter and looked into what had happened. Young, healthy and active, she'd had a stroke. Another test: hole in her heart.

Working at one of the finest teaching hospitals in the Midwest, she had access to oodles of information and countless qualified opinions. What did she do? She entered a study that basically flips a coin. Heads: surgery to close the hole. Tails: monitored aspirin therapy. Her recommendation...join the study.

No doctor was comfortable telling me I should have the surgery, yet they weren't ruling it out either. Leaving it to the fates seemed only appropriate.

But instead of enrolling in the study, I just studied. I was in the middle of that semester, after all.

So just a couple of weeks ago, I had another follow-up with my charming neurologist. Same review of the story (I think he gets a kick out of that part), the poking and prodding and squeezing. Another attending came by. Another opinion. Another test. And as I left KUMed after my semi-annual radiation dose, I popped my head into the cardiology offices. The gals who are administering the study took time and filled me in on a few details. I really couldn't see a reason to not participate. I'm going to be looking for guinea pigs for my studies some day, right? And guinea pigs who are young, active, low-risk, have had strokes and have holes in their hearts don't come around every day. Count me in.

So today I will sign on the dotted line. They'll take some blood from my juicy veins and probably do another test or two. Sometime next week I'll be randomized.

Heaven forbid my semester breaks be uneventful...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Read It and Weep

A couple of nights ago, Mark and I were chatting about breast augmentation (gasp!)(strictly on an observational level) and he said, "Oh, my friend Janine has a horror story." I asked for more, but he politely told me that I would have to read about it.

Back in Chapter One of our romance, I recall him telling me of an author-friend and a tragic tale (not about the implants) she told in her recently published autobiography. By Chapter Two, I regularly noticed the book on his shelf, but only because I'd looked up long enough to take a breath to keep from drowning in organic chemistry.

Last night I was tending to Cody and his thunderstorm-induced panic attacks when I got a call that Mark was enjoying the Denver airport so much that he was going to stick around for an extra 90 minutes. Bleh. I'd already played my move in Lexulous. I'd checked all of my friends' status updates on facebook. And the dishes were done.

I grabbed the book.

An hour and a half later, I noticed it was well past my usual bedtime. But...I had to know what was going to happen next. I somewhat reluctantly asked Mark if I could bring it home (I already have two of his books in my possession, dusty on my bedside table), and he graciously agreed. Luckily, I can slip this one back on his shelf tomorrow.

It's a true story. And it's heart-wrenching.

I saw parallels to past lives and stark differences as well. I was engaged and anxious and horrified and saddened.

Do yourself a favor. It's a quick read. And if it doesn't rattle you, I don't know that we can be friends anymore.