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.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Chocolate Kisses

A bit more than two years ago, Crazy Neighbor Teri and I realized that both of our birthdays were just around the corner and we'd grown weary of our relatively mundane lives. Over dinner one night, we declared the following June to be "Birthday Month" and agreed step outside of our old lives -- if only for 30 days -- and experience a few new somethings.

At the same time, I recall seeing pictures and updates (on MySpace -- don't laugh) from friends who had enjoyed May's First Friday in downtown Kansas City. We both admitted we'd never attended and decided that would be as good a way as any to kick off our month-long celebration. Weeks later, the day was upon us and I was giddy. I got a call mid-way through that special day from Teri reminding me that a Match.com acquaintance of hers was going to play tour guide. They'd made this arrangement a few weeks prior, and though there was no great love interest between the two, they both agreed to keep the date.

And I was incensed.

I thought she and I were going to be strong, smart, adventurous women and undertake this first experience on our own. But I didn't fuss [out loud]. I'd still find a way to make the best of the evening.

Because my kids outnumber hers 3:1, we decided to have the whole crew hang at my house. I'd also agreed to provide the meal, and since her son takes the sport of finicky eating to a new level, I stuck with pretty standard fare. I made bread and homemade chicken fingers. All the while, I was getting dolled up to see (and be seen by) the revelers of KC at one of the most popular monthly events in the city.

Teri's son and mom (babysitter bonus!) were there before long and I started dishing up dinner. The bread was hot from the oven, so that was by far the most popular item, and I busily sliced piece upon piece for the kids. Shortly after, Teri and our tour guide arrived. He was a charming and handsome man who immediately made me feel comfortable that I would not be playing "fifth wheel" for the evening. I offered him a slice of bread, which he graciously accepted and before long, we were on our merry way.

As we arrived downtown, I felt overwhelmed by the crowds and found some relief in knowing we were in qualified hands. We toured various galleries, stores and coffee shops, enjoying the art and the energy (and a complimentary glass of wine or two). The Guide and I kept the conversation moving, while Teri drifted in and out of the evening.

Before leaving, we stopped at a bar for a drink. The three of us sat on a couch, The Guide comfortably sandwiched between two lovely women. Again, Teri was hardly present, so he and I happily chatted about this and that, exchanging the vaguest of contact information (MySpace monikers) even though he was more of a facebook guy.

By evening's end and he dropped us off at my house, I felt strongly compelled to go for the goodbye hug, but assumed Ms. Manners probably frowned upon blatant acts of affection toward a friend's date, regardless of their lack of interest in one another. I did, however, scurry the kids into bed then quickly began searching for his MySpace page. I was unsuccessful, but about 15 minutes later, a new message popped into my inbox. He'd found me.

We traded It was really nice to meet yous and some nervous banter. Several messages into the silliness, he cautiously asked how appropriate it might be if a gentleman found himself attracted to his date's best friend. I probably squealed, but because I was typing and not talking, I was able to calmly respond that it would be just fine with his date -- and his date's best friend.

I went to bed with quite the smile on my face. The next morning we exchanged a text or two before our schedules found their way into full-swing. And a few responsibilities were shuffled to manage a lunch the following day. Just the two of us.

I didn't know myself to be much of a "public display of affection" kinda gal, but as soon as he walked into the restaurant, we locked lips. This was chemistry at its finest. And although making out for two hours had a strong appeal, we opted to have our meal and share Reader's Digest versions of our marriages and their subsequent demises.

We then took a drive to a local landmark where he presented me with dessert...but first I had to close my eyes. He then gently placed upon my tongue a square of rich dark chocolate with black sesame seeds, ginger and ...wasabi.

Two years of interesting twists and turns later, I still kiss him as soon as he walks into a room. Some things are best left unchanged.

Clueless

This weekend, Mark and I ran our first race together. The Hospital Hill Half Marathon. Word around town is that it's a pretty big deal. Widely regarded as one of the most challenging courses in the nation, it's something that you just do if you consider yourself a runner in KC.

Last year, however, I didn't know any of this. I knew I wanted to run a half. Casey commented that I should run HH...so I did. And it was a challenge. I noticed a couple of hills along the way. And I hurt for a few days.

This year, I went in having heard more buzz. I learned that those two hills I remembered were accompanied by several of their closest friends. Add to that an extra 20 degrees of heat radiating down on the streets of Kansas City and my need to compete with last year's time...I was pretty intimidated.

While running, I noticed each and every hill I encountered, I felt the heat and the humidity throughout the entire course (thank goodness there was cloud cover) and my time was longer by eight minutes. Not my proudest moment.

Mark's time was a little slower than he'd hoped, but still under two hours. While we were recovering from the big event, he and I concurred that it was a very hard run. While still sweaty and breathless, the thought crossed my mind that I probably didn't need to do it again. Of course, less than 24 hours later I'm reconsidering. I mean, I can't let it beat me, right?

I'm sure you've been missing the "lesson portion" in recent posts, so here goes: today's is not a lesson about the physics or love or cooking times...it's about me. I learned something about me. I am better off going in blindly. Last year I equated running the half to returning to school in a round-about way:
"...when obstacles come along, there's nothing like knowing there are dear friends and family who are cheering me on and wishing me well. Two hours of running is a far cry from three years of schooling, but as long as the wind is occasionally at my back and there's a sweet smile handing me a cool beverage every few miles, I think...no, I'm sure I'll cross that finish line."
This year, I'll amend that. The less I know about a daunting task, the more likely I am to tackle it. If I'd have taken into consideration all of the time and classes and finances that the degree in dietetics would demand of me, I doubt I would have taken that dive. Had I known how hard a course this half was, I probably would have found an easier run.

Don't think for a second that I'm recommending this way of going about things. I'm just observing that if I am passionate about doing something, it's probably for the best that I don't step back and analyze the decision. There's a lot of self-doubt inside this cranium and I'd hate to see it win over the tenacity in this heart.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

On a Related Note...

Some time ago when I shared with you my second chance with Wasabi, I listed a few of the things I feared I'd lost while in my previous relationship:
"I always felt he and I would be lifelong friends. I thought we'd continue to meet for coffees long into the future. I thought we'd invite each other to our eventual weddings. I thought I'd send his kids graduation cards."
While I can't knock all of these off the list, I hit one in particular this week. I recalled this post as I penned a message to his eldest, celebrating his graduation from high school. I vividly remember during our "interim coffees" listening to tales of his charming children, thinking I'd drop them a line once they crossed that stage. They may or may not have known who I was, but I'd been cheering them on from afar for some time and figured I'd want to somehow mark the moment.

So while The Poet and I were trying to make things work -- and I de-friended Mark on facebook (there, I admitted it!) -- I grappled with these little somethings I had given away that added up to a big something (the disposal of a friend). The act of scribbling a note to each of his children -- or rather, not scribbling a note to each of his children, weighed heavily on my heart, and most certainly contributed to the demise of that courtship.

So I guess we're one down-two to go for grad cards. "Lifelong friends" I'd like to say is in the bag, "coffees long into the future" is a work in progress, and as for "eventual weddings," well, if I ever make that commitment again, I do hope he's somewhere nearby.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Birthday Month!

meYeah, gonna be honest, I'm not up to the fuss I made over it for #38 and #39. You'd think otherwise, but...well...we'll see.

June plans thus far include running the Hospital Hill half marathon this weekend along with my sweetie (not side-by-side or anything crazy like that), starting summer classes on the 21st, and then turning the big four-OH! two days later. Perhaps a shindig? Not sure just yet. Just glad to be turning 40 with my health, my family and my true love.

Hopefully the month will surprise me with a new experience or two -- you know how I dig those. And facing a new decade...this one is gonna be a doozie! Can't wait!