What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

28 February 2017

Teaser Tuesday #48

Image source: Goodreads.
(I just started reading this book and it has me laughing so hard. Proud Gen Xer here.)

X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking, Jeff Gordinier


South Park, an emerald affixed to the ring of San Francisco's South of Market district, was the very nucleus of new media, the home of everything from Wired to Napster.

As a Gen Xer your more or less expected to get reamed, so maybe you figured that you, in your golden years, would wind up like a geriatric version of those clods in Clerks, muttering vulgarities and schlepping your way through the service sector until the grim reaper showed up at the video shop to rent Scarface.




Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, once upon a time hosted by MizB from Should Be Reading (and now I just can't tell if it has a host at all. But why stop?). Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

27 February 2017

Spring In Our Step

I literally forgot that I hadn't written my race recap yet, and sometime this weekend I thought, "How can I write a running blog this week when I haven't done any running?" I was going to make crap up until I remembered I didn't have to. It's fun inside this brain.

El Paso and the Springfoot Marathon, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1. It's a tiny race. I've never run in a smaller race outside of the local running club races in Lubbock, certainly not one I had to travel hundreds of miles for (1500 miles. Someone asked and I looked it up). All of the runners were super supportive of one another--people were honestly talking to me like we were BFFs, to the point that I started to wonder if I'd met some of these folks before and just didn't remember them. Of course, with that few people and that much time together, we practically were BFFs by the time we finished.

2. Seriously, I can't get over how friendly they all were. A total stranger wandered up to me before the race and started to chat about growing up in El Paso (him) and how many races we'd run (both of us) and how far I travelled to be there (all me). He was pretty good-looking, too, so clearly I should have gotten his phone number. The crowd support along the course was thin, but who cares when we carried our own crowd support with us?

I played with the colours on this pic, because what better
time to play with colour than on someone else's pic?
So, the sky wasn't really that shade of turquoise. The
mountains were really there, though, and the course was
magnificient. Photo courtesy of the amazing Scott.
(Yes, my eyes are closed. I was taking a wee nap.)
3. Not that I needed crowd support, because I had my own. Do you ever get the feeling someone is following you? On a bike? While you're running a race? Marty (who I was staying with) was technically following her husband Shane, but I saw her a few times, too, and also heard her, because she was hauling music. Scott, who had to go to work long before I finished because I run about as fast as molasses flowing uphill in January, came downtown two hours before he had to be there and crisscrossed the course to wave, shout things like "Come on!!" (he caught me walking once, because I'd stopped to take a gel and I'm terrified to run and gel at the same time), and take pictures, which is great since I now have official permission to share his photos on my blog.

I'm pretty sure I didn't do anything to these photos and
the sky really was that blue. 
4. The aid stations had themes--I saw Star Wars, Mario Kart, and Harry Potter. No prizes for guessing which was my favourite. The best thing about the Potterstop, though, wasn't the costumes or the theme music; it was that they were also in character. Professor McGonagall wasn't smiling, Dobby was trying extra-hard to make everyone happy, Voldemort was sucking the life out of people (although that feeling may have been more related to Mile 11 than Voldy), Hagrid was cleaning up all the dropped cups. It was amazing.

5. There was a hill, but it wasn't terrible. You may remember I was a bit nervous about the hill in the middle of the race after looking at the course elevation chart a few weeks back. At the expo, local expert and pre-tour-guide extraordinaire Scott talked me through the entire course, pointing out all the places where the course went around the hills instead of over them, and summing up worst of the inclines as, "It'll be easier running than if you were on a bike." Having now run it with my bikey eyes: I agree. This is why I have so many bikey friends, y'all. They make my life better.

6. I got to finish here:
So that was cool. It's as pretty on the inside
as it is on the outside. The El Paso Chihuahuas
play here--I just learned that while writing this
and had no idea while I was running.
Photo courtesy of Marty the Magnificient.

7. The finisher medal is beautiful. My Indy Mini medal is still my favourite of all time, but Springfoot is definitely the prettiest one I own. I've been showing it off to everyone who made the mistake of standing still near me for more than 30 seconds in the past week. It's now hanging on my wall with all the rest of my medals, which should be a relief to my coworkers.

So on Saturday, when Marty and Shane asked how fast I thought I would run, I said I had 2:46 on my iPod but that may have been a tad optimistic. What I should have said, of course, was that I would go out way too fast, fade at about mile 3, the wheels would be completely off the wagon by mile 8, and I'd stagger home the last couple miles. That's what I do at every race, including this one. So, my final time was 2:50:55, which is not quite the "now let's go get a PR" launchpoint I was hoping it would be, but was better than I expected giving how I'd felt at race start. (I woke up with a headache, which I always knew would happen someday, and while it wasn't a full-fledged migraine, I did manage a few migraine-y symptoms. Whatever you're imagining right now: yes, that. And it lasted until the literal minute the race began.)

On the upside, Central Indiana is pancake-flat, which is a big help to this PR chase at the Indy Mini. I don't expect an absolute PR, as I've said before, but want to fly through it as fast as I can. I've heard this approach called something fancy that I can't remember, but essentially it's for those of us who can't run as fast now as we did in our 20s but who still work hard to keep getting better. Although, obviously, I'd love it if I can get down to my absolute PR again in the next year or two--it helps that I was never all that fast in my 20s. Regardless, Indy is ahead of me (insert "start your engines" joke here) and I plan to fall down once I'm past the finish line, after leaving everything on the road.

26 February 2017

The Verb (Kinda)

A couple weeks ago when I talked about my word for 2017 (creation), Kar left this great comment:
Reminds me of something I read in the book Bruchko a few years back that has stuck in the back of my mind. He talks about the peace of God entering his life at one point & describes it as a very active thing full of life (rather than the passive, calm connotations peace often has). I just really loved that. The idea that God was moving & actively transforming, healing, fighting for him. I love that concept of peace-- an active, living, creative thing.
I knew I wanted a Charles Rennie Mackintosh font for
my card, and while I was at it I grabbed some of his
Glasgow roses, too.
Years ago, I heard a teacher bemoaning that students responded better to the expression "doing word" than if she used the more proper "verb," but gosh, I love "doing word." I can see why students would prefer that phrasing. (It's the 21st century--we're never happier than when we're doing, amirite?) And I almost chose a verb--my 2017 word was nearly "create" instead of "creation," and at the last minute I changed my mind, and I can't for the life of me remember why. To think of all the hours my rhetoric instructors spent on telling me to watch out for unnecessary nominalization, and here I go running headlong into one.

The English translation of John 1:1 reads, "In the beginning was the Word." You know what it says in Spanish? "The Verb." I've loved that since the first time I read it. Not being a language expert, I have no idea what the difference is that renders the same word as "word" in one language and "verb" in another, but wow, I love thinking of Jesus as a verb. The Verb became flesh and dwelt among us. No wonder we like doing words so much.

And the nice thing about choosing a noun like "creation," as Kar pointed out, is that it carries an air of activity with it. You can't have a creation without having created. If I want to get to a creation, then first I have to be busy in the act of creating.

What are you creating today?

24 February 2017

Bagged

Someone I know who shall remain unnamed is against bag bans for ideological reasons, but recently said that the one-item-per-bag phenomenon that plagues so many stores has made her reconsider her position.

One thing I love about bag bans: I don't have to tell the bagger, sometimes multiple times, "No, see, I brought my own bag. Stop putting things in plastic." One day last summer, at the grocery store near Grandma's house where I shopped nearly every day for four months, I had to say to a bagger, "No. Stop. I do not want you to put any of my things into a plastic bag." To which he said, "Oh, sorry," then took out whatever he'd put in, pulled the bag off its hooks, and tossed it into the trash. I gave him the "why would you do something that stupid?" look I used to practice in case I ever had teenagers in my house. I got to use it after all, yay.

Some of my ridiculously large
collection of reusables, back before
I'd washed them so many times their
logos are now half worn off.
Unrelated: I really miss the apartment
where I took this pic.
That's not really the point of today's post, although if you aren't yet taking your own bags to the grocery store, why not? Everyone I know has approximately three dozen of them kicking around the house, so put them to good use. Similarly, if you do end up at a store without your reusables, remember to gather up all that plastic and return it to the recycling bin inside the store on your next trip.

No, today's PSA is this: you really need to wash those things, early and often. They'll go in your regular laundry. Toss them in and let them get clean, then hang them up to air dry. Small produce bags you can hand wash--soap up your hands and then rub the bag between them. Rinse with warm water and hang up. Keep your bags clean for the health of your family and for other folks--spreading your germs all over creation is maybe not the best expression of neighborliness.

23 February 2017

Public Performance

The amazing Angela wrote an excellent thing about public grief for celebrities a couple months back, which got us talking a little bit about performative grief and why humans engage in it. I still don't have answers, but sometimes putting fingers on keyboard yields coherent thought. Let's see.

Speaking of performance--why
else would this expression resonate
with so many?
I first learned the expression "performative _____" in an Introduction to Theatre class my final semester at UT. Our instructor spent an early lecture talking about the distinctions between theatre and performance, because all of life is performance. (Think about the choices you make this morning-- showered or not? Shaved or not? What do you wear? How does your hair/makeup look? Do you drive, walk, bike, or take transit to work? And the critical one--what do all those performances say about you?) Calling it a performance doesn't make it any less genuine--I walk to work instead of driving and it's absolutely a statement about what's important to me, but that doesn't change the fact that I get there every day. Ditto for those who drive in and daily complain about the traffic. We still arrive. Transportation was performed, by different people with different lifestyles and preferences.

Social media adds an extra dimension to our performance, and one of the reasons I love it so much is that it gives me the chance to reflect on my own performance as well as those happening around me, share those thoughts with friends, get feedback--my whole life has devolved into one long metadiscourse, and engaging with others' metadiscourses at the same time. You know what? I'm okay with that--if for no other reason that it allows me to know people differently than if I merely saw them at the water cooler a couple times a day. It's still a performance, and a carefully curated one at that, but there's a reason I call many folks I know from Twitter "friends" even if we've only met in real life once or twice. Or never. What's presented face-to-face is no less curated, but it's a different collection of what makes me me than I can share online. Or of what makes you you.

What does this have to do with public grief? As Angela points out, it would be so much cooler to read the stories of how this or that celebrity touched lives. And that's what many folks share, and it's beautiful. And many more of us content ourselves with "RIP _____" or "Enough already!" or something in between. Because, I think, not knowing the deceased personally makes it a bit of a struggle to know how to respond appropriately, but the human brain craves that connection with others, to collectively acknowledge that something has shifted in the world. And, for many, there's a need to be seen engaging with the story of the day. So we post our memes and sad emojis and favourite YouTube clips, and after a couple of days our desire for that connection and/or display is met. And a new performance stands ahead of us, waiting for us to engage.

So is it a good or bad thing? I'm not sure I can say. What do you think?

22 February 2017

Ground Transportation

This tweet came rolling across my timeline a couple weeks before my latest adventure in roaming the country to escape my emotion of the day:
I can't speak about Disney from personal experience, although I have anecdotally heard similar sentiments about how everyone loves Main Street, USA, because of its car-free walkability and nostalgia and whatnot. If only they'd all go home committed to asking their city council to make their own main street more like that one, eh?

Airport transportation, however, is another thing. I use it almost every time I travel, usually to transfer between terminals, although during my layover at DFW on Monday afternoon I absolutely took Scott's excellent suggestion to ride around on the Skylink to combat boredom. (It's possible he was joking. I did it anyway, mostly in search of better food than what was on offer at my gate.)

I didn't take any pics on the DFW Skylink, nor on the train
in Houston, but I did see this back home. These signs are
 all through the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport
to remind folks to be active while waiting for a plane.
Sure beats standing in another Starbucks line.
The Cincinnati airport has a train, too, although the trek through the underground tunnel between the terminals in a nice one and I've not yet been tempted onto the train. (In the interest of research for this post, I was planning to use it Monday night, but it was at middle-of-the-night service levels and as such, was not worth the wait.) I can certainly see its usefulness for the exhausted, the mobility impaired, those with small children, women wearing high heels, and anyone who isn't trying to squeeze a few more steps into her day to win a challenge on her wearable activity monitor.

So, here's my extremely unscientific observation: yes, airport transportation is a microcosm of our greater public transportation, in many ways. (Click through and read the whole thread above, by the way; it's great.) Folks stand anxiously in front of the doors staring up at the sign, then back at their ticket, then back at the sign again, before finally stepping aboard hoping they've made the right choice. They aren't certain what to do once inside--crowd by the door? (No.) Move further in and grab a rail to hang on? (Yes.) They're equally timid about stepping off again, in case they got the wrong exit. (Actual conversation I overheard in Houston on Friday: "This is our stop." "Are you sure?" "Yes, I'm sure." "How do you know?" "It's on the board right there, and there was just an announcement." "There was an announcement??" In fact, there were at least three.) And that's in an airport filled with employees who are literally paid to get you where you need to go. No wonder folks are so shy about using transit in places where mistakes in navigation take a lot longer to adjust, if the airport train causes that much anxiety.

But I don't think that's a good enough excuse. The things that make airport trains useful and attractive--frequency, reliability, safety, easy-to-understand wayfinding, speed--are the same ones that make all transit user-friendly and successful. Or the opposite, when those factors are missing. What if cities approached all public transit with the idea of moving a bunch of people in a hurry for low cost while minimizing their inconvenience?

That would be a great step toward making all our Main Streets the happiest place on earth.

21 February 2017

Teaser Tuesday #47

Image source: Goodreads.
What the Living Do, Marie Howe

In the dream I had when he came back not sick
but whole, and wearing his winter coat,

he looked at me as though he couldn't speak, as if 
there were a law against it, a membrane he couldn't break.

---

Soon I will die, he said, and then 
what everyone has been so afraid of for so long will have finally happened,

and then everyone can rest.



(Yes, I really turned to a random page. The whole book is like this.)


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, once upon a time hosted by MizB from Should Be Reading (and now I just can't tell if it has a host at all. But why stop?). Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

20 February 2017

On a Break

Yesterday was the end of the sad stuff; it's safe to come out now! (Who am I kidding. People love it when I post sad stuff. It's more like, you can go back to whatever other sad things you were reading, because I'm done for now.)

Fantastic race logo from the
@springfootep Twitter.
Next week I'll tell you all about the race and what my time was (well, maybe) and whatnot. In the meantime, it's probably all over my Twitter, if you're desperate to hear about it.

Also in the meantime, I'm on a running break to give my legs some time to recover. Next Monday I start training for the Indy Mini (Meb is going to be there again!!). Ten weeks to go until I run 13.1 in Indianapolis chasing a PR--if not an absolute PR, which may still be out of reach, then at least my fastest once since my absolute fastest.

See you next week. For now, I have my feet up.

19 February 2017

What Not to Say, Updated

Writing my weekend blog posts before I go out of town is the closest I'll ever get to time travel. Right now, while you're reading this, I'm probably asleep in El Paso. But while I'm writing it, I'm very much awake on Thursday night in Cincinnati. What's it like in the future, y'all? You don't have to tell me-- I'll be awake and running in the future in just a few hours. I tried doing the math on how many hours, but going two time zones west is too much for my puny brain.

Anyway. Today's post is an update on one I wrote back when I'd only been widowed a few months, now that I've had a bit of time to recover from the bizarrely dumb things some folks said. Whether we like it or not, the wrong words will pour out of our very human mouths when faced with other peoples' grief. Can you avoid that? Probably not, but I'll give you a few ideas. A cheat sheet, if you will. Please do remember that grief is somewhat idiosyncratic, and what seems callous to one person will seem reasonable to another.


I honestly didn't take photos of
fancy old gravestones so I'd
have images for my grief-y
 blog posts, but I do admit it's
worked out well.
Things that are good to say

1. "Please text/call/Facebook me, even if it's the middle of the night."

This is not for casual acquaintances. You should only say this to someone with whom you already have a text/call/Facebook relationship. You should also edit it to fit your own boundaries--if you have small children in the house, 2 AM phone calls may not be how you can help, for example. Only say this if you are willing for the person to take you up on it.

I have about six people, scattered across multiple time zones and with assorted sleeping habits, who I took up on this offer (and still do, from time to time). I can usually find someone awake during my middle of the night when it's not that hour for them.

2. "What can I bring you?" 

This one works for anyone, unless the bereaved has some sort of restraining order against you. Be prepared with suggestions if the person says "I don't know." Be prepared with non-food ideas if the person says "My fridge is full." Be prepared to get a gift card if the person says, "No, thank you," but gift-giving is still one of your love languages. They'll appreciate it later. Promise. (You know, apart from the aforementioned restraining order people. Those folks should stay away.)

3. "Can I go to the bank/supermarket/library/etc. for you?"

Yes. Yes, you can. Again, maybe this isn't something you'd say to someone you've only said hello to twice. If you don't know them well enough to know if they're too private to accept this offer, skip straight to a nice sympathy card with some kind words inside.

4. "Do you want to go to (fun thing you guys usually do together)?"

Give this one a while before asking the first time, and keep in mind that the answer will likely be 'no' for a while. Please, please don't stop asking. One day, the answer will be 'yes' again.

5. Sharing a favourite memory or something you liked or appreciated about the departed person is always welcome.

Note: this means other kinds of stories, like "most embarrassing moment" or "something horrible he did to me when we are kids," are probably not welcome. Don't be the weird cousin who tells awkward stories at the wake.

6. Go to the funeral.

It's the best chance to show that you care. You don't even have to say anything. I'd be lying if I said I have instant recall of every person who was at Chadwick's funeral, but I do know that every person who stepped through the door made my heart swell a bit more. Especially those who travelled long distances and were a surprise. You never know how much your presence will bless someone.

7. "I care about you."

Just don't be creepy. If you don't know the person well enough to be non-creepy, there's always the standard-issue and perfectly acceptable:

8. "I'm so sorry to hear of your loss." 

Cliched? Sure. Appreciated? Oh, yes. Ever so much more than the ones we're about to go over.

This one was both sweet and sad. I wonder if Martha
has any living descendents who know she and her baby
are remembered here.

Things That Are Better Unsaid; or, Please See #7 Above

1. For the love of everything, please don't race to post your condolences on Facebook. And if you do, don't act surprised if the family is less than pleased.

If you don't know for sure that all family and friends who should hear the news firsthand have been informed, find something else to do with your fingers for a couple hours. I recommend a good cup of tea and perhaps a crossword puzzle. Honestly, the deceased is not going to get any less dead if you don't say something right away. Even if your intentions are good, please wait. Go ahead and send a text to the widow(er) if you like, though--but again, don't expect an immediate response, or indeed any response at all. It's not a grief-off.

Also, if you think you should have been among the first to get a phone call and weren't, or you read it from someone on Facebook before you got the call, take any aggravation/resentment you may feel about that and deal with it, appropriately and quietly. "Appropriately" is not saving it up for a couple years and then airing your grievances, by the way. Give the bereaved some slack--some of mine and Chadwick's relatives and good friends found out from Facebook, because there are only so many times anyone can say, "My husband died this morning" before it gets to be too much.

2. "S/He's in a better place."

This may be true, but that doesn't mean you have to say it out loud in the presence of family members who are struggling just to stay upright. (Hawaii is also a better place, but I wouldn't want him going there and leaving me behind, either.)

And the next is like unto it:

3. "It's comforting to know that s/he's with Jesus." 

It may not be, actually. So keep that one to yourself and enjoy being comforted by the thought, if it helps you.

4. "God needed him/her more that you did."

No, God bloody well did not. If this is the best you can do, just sign the guest register and take a seat with your mouth closed. This is a terrible thing to say, not only because it's not comforting, but also because it turns God into some kind of weirdo body-snatching alien from a bad horror movie. Just don't.

5. "Did you guys know he was sick?" or "Was this a surprise?"

I cannot stress this enough: there's a good chance this is none of your business, and in the first few weeks, the bereaved probably doesn't want to share it hundreds of times. Other people have almost certainly asked before you. I honestly got asked this so many times that I started telling people that a pulmonary embolism is an acute condition that can happen to anyone at any time, which is not 100% true, but usually gave the questioner reason to ponder his or her own mortality, preferably somewhere I wasn't.

After a while, people started to phrase it as, "Can I ask what happened?" which at least gives the bereaved a chance to say "I'd rather not talk about it" if that's how they feel. If you simply must ask, this is probably the way to do it.

6. "How are you?" or "How are you, really?"

I know, I know. It seems like a well-intentioned, innocent enough question. The problem is, every second person asks it, putting the emphasis in those exact places. The further problem is, when asked that way, this question implies a close relationship that the person in grief may not feel right then. A better option than this is #1 from the "What to Say" list, which gives the widow(er) the choice about when and how much to talk to you about how she/he really is.

7. Anything that might be trying to get the person to look on the bright side.

We're not going to get to the bright side any faster just because some dimwit is trying to "help" get us there. This is, in fact, one of those times when looking on the dark side is totally appropriate. There's a road out, but in no universe does someone come out of the darkness faster if you shine a Maglite into their face. Again, sit down and be quiet if you can't come up with anything else.

I've probably missed some important ones, but this should be enough to get you started. Above and beyond all else, think before you speak. Always. That's the best way to save everyone some aggravation, embarrassment, and heartache.

18 February 2017

Two Years

I was just going to get up early and go to Ash Wednesday service before work. Maybe take a long break in the middle of the day to finish my reading for class that night. Remind Chadwick that he needed to call his doc to see if he could get right away since he hadn't been feeling well and we couldn't figure out why.

The service was forgotten, the reading never got done, and the doc wasn't needed, although the "why" was answered within 24 hours, because there was an investigation underway that urgently needed a coroner's report.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Some folks have asked because news in those first few days was slow to spread after the initial word went out. (I probably never wrote it down anywhere, truthfully.) And there are a lot of people in my life now who I'd never met two years ago. So for anyone who's still wondering, here's how it all went down.

He wasn't feeling well on Tuesday evening. We went to the Pancake Dinner at church, and someone gave us a lift home after, which was a good thing because I'm not sure now he would have made it if we'd taken the bus. (On the other hand, had he collapsed on the side of the road I would have called an ambulance and they may have saved him. But that's the last of the what-ifs I'm going to let myself wander down, honestly.)

He didn't love the show, but he loved this line.
We sat on the couch, I tried to do some homework, and he scrolled through Netflix and told me all the details of whatever episode he'd last watched of everything. He ate all my post-half-marathon ice cream I hadn't eaten yet (with my permission). At 11:30, we said goodnight and I went to bed. The last thing I said to him was, "I love you. I'll see you tomorrow."

Sometime in the night, I heard him come into our bedroom. I immediately went back to sleep and didn't get up until my alarm went off at 5:45. I found him where he'd fallen on the bathroom floor, and when he didn't respond to my shaking him I checked his pulse (none), then called 911. The operator had me do chest compressions until the ambulance arrived, which in the immediate aftermath I suspected was just to keep me occupied until the paramedics arrived. Of course, I do know that it could have made a difference if it weren't already too late. At the time, and in the weeks that followed, I felt robbed of that last chance to sit and hold him. I guess I still kind of do.

The medics pulled him out of our bedroom and into the living room, and one of them sent me away while they worked on him. Another came to talk me through what was happening. I think I was probably praying? I really can't remember. Nor do I remember them stopping and calling him DOS. It wasn't until they were packing up their stuff that I snapped back into reality as the woman who'd been talking to me said they would stay until the police arrived. I made the first few calls (to Denise, my mom, and somebody from church, if memory serves) before the police arrived to tell me there was going to be an investigation.

This is the part that always horrifies people--that I was (or would have been, if the coroner had ruled his death suspicious) a suspect for that first day. I asked the police if I could change my clothes (I was still in pajamas) while they talked to the medics, they said I could but I had to leave the door open. In the meantime, I couldn't touch anything in the house--no making a cup of tea, no having breakfast, and I hadn't even used the loo yet. To the officers' annoyance, first Denise and then a string of folks from church started arriving while they were still getting photos from the scene and a statement from me. (Maybe a statement from Denise, too? I can't remember that, either.) Their grief counselors sat with us until the Red River Church contingent arrived and there was just no more space in my bedroom. A lot of people saw my bedroom that day.

Meanwhile, back in Indiana, my mother was on the phone with a travel agent, my father was on the phone with his employer, and my sister-in-law was on the phone with my niece's school. More or less. Somehow, they all managed to get on a plane in the wee hours the next morning. (It was 9° in Indianapolis when they left. It was 65° in Austin when they arrived. So that was something.)

I don't know how many calls I made before I couldn't do it any longer. I asked one person in Lubbock to make a couple calls for me that I would have liked to make for myself if I hadn't run out of steam. I asked Keely to find a way to reach Dawn in Scotland--the internet on my phone wasn't working (I was still stuck in my bedroom), and it wasn't until later that I'd find out that was because the medics had unplugged my modem to plug in their machinery. I knew that I had to call Chad's dad in California pretty early, earlier than I would have liked, because the flood of incoming text messages had already let me know that the news was on Facebook.

After the coroner took him away and the police left after letting me know that they'd be in touch, I finally got to use the loo. And have a cup of tea. And the pastor went to Starbucks and brought me breakfast before gently mentioning that there would have to be a funeral, of course Red River Church was at my disposal, and did I have anyone in mind to conduct the service? I probably said, "You!" before he even finished the sentence.

The photo we used at the funeral. (We didn't have his body
there, because to do that you have to pay for embalming,
and the cost for embalming is kind of a waste when
you're just going to cremate the body.) It's pretty accurate.
People and food started arriving, the church elders and their wives cleaned the house despite my protests, and I put Chadwick's glasses on a shelf so they didn't get crushed. The organ donor folks called to confirm the tissue donation. By the way, they were great--not only did they walk me through the process as kindly as possible, but I also got a series of very kind thank-you notes and some follow-up grief resources. Someone took me for a walk around the block and asked how Chadwick and I had met.

The next day, the coroner called to tell me it was a pulmonary embolism, probably caused by all the walking around he did at the Austin Marathon three days earlier. The police called to tell me the investigation was closed. I called a funeral home to tell them they had a customer. (The funeral home called my mother "Mrs. Wilcox" twice. I can understand their confusion--the widow isn't usually the youngest one in the group.)

"To love another person is to see the face of God," and it's important to remember that love is a verb. I've never been so loved in my life as I was those first few days. People brought hugs, and cleaning supplies, and paper products (it was literally a year before Denise and I had to buy toilet paper), and M&Ms (which my father promptly ate), and Torchy's Tacos (which Denise swears she'll never eat again), and more food than our fridge could hold. I don't know how I got through those days, but I know it wouldn't have happened without the steady, constant wall of people coming and going and bringing and talking and taking out our rubbish. (And our recycling. We had a joke about that, but it doesn't write down well, so you'll just have to think funny thoughts about recycling on your own.)

At some point I gave up writing thank-you notes, and if I missed you I'm really sorry about that, but I haven't forgotten your kindness. I have to love for two people now, and the love I feel when I think about those first days overwhelms me, that kindness can so alleviate grief, that burdens can be so beautifully shared.



The song we played at his funeral. I wasn't kidding about it being LOTR-themed.

17 February 2017

When the Only Way to Cope is to Leave

I'm headed to El Paso tomorrow to run a half marathon--I may have mentioned it once or twice before now. But there's another reason I'm leaving town.

For the first Deathiversary, I went to Dallas. This year it's El Paso. I don't really want this to be a thing--that I have to go to a major Texas city every February 18--but the timing worked out well to go see some kind, welcoming friends on a day they know is hard. It'll be nice to cry at familiar faces instead of ones I've just met. And then the next day I can literally run away from my feelings. Brilliant.

I have standing permission to swipe (with credit, natch) photos
from Scott's social media, although now that I think about it he may have
only extended that permission if I were going to use them for BikeTexas.
I'm not sure we ever discussed me using them on my blog. Huh.
So, thank you, Scott! Also, wow, look at this sunrise. Can't wait to see that
in person. (And the race starts at 7 AM, so I'll get a good look at it.)
Photo source: @sbwhite on Twitter. (You should follow him. He's great.)
I work in a mental health office, with coworkers who are amazing and talented and just incredible at what they do, but you can understand why I hesitate to make the "running away from my feelings" joke in a building full of mental health counselors, in case they start to worry about me. Don't get me wrong; they probably should worry, but I don't want them to know that, either. Fortunately, not that many people who have to see me every day want to read my thoughts when they go home.

Anyway. Sitting alone in my apartment, even if I stocked up with ice cream and cookies and all the Netflix I can handle, does not appeal. If this day has to come round once a year, I'd rather greet it by being up and going and doing and running off to another city instead of hanging out here with the ghosts and memories and what-ifs and bitter regrets. This one day a year, I can't cope with solitude and silence. I can't take being alone on the day that began a long journey of loneliness. I can't.

And so far, running away from my feelings has been a valid coping strategy, so I'm not about to mess with that. See you tomorrow, El Paso.

16 February 2017

Things Nobody Tells You Before You're Widowed

My dearest wish for all of you is that you and yours live long and healthy lives together and are only parted, if parted you must be, when you're old and grey and have a reasonable expectation that one will follow the other in short course anyway.

I knew all those photos I took at
the cemetery were going to
come in handy.
Unfortunately, I'm in a position to know that it doesn't happen that way for everyone. And since I do know that, here's my list of things you need to do to make your life easier should the unthinkable happen. Just do them, get it over with, and then put the evidence away praying you'll never need it.

1. Everybody's name should be on every account.
I had to send death certificates to the most unlikely of places--my phone company, for instance--to get customer service to even talk to me, because most of our stuff was in Chadwick's name. (For entirely un-sexist reasons, I would add; I was the primary breadwinner so he took care of stuff like talking to the electric company.) It never occurred to us that we were effectively locking me out of all our accounts. In fact, if you have a next of kin who you trust, having a third authorized person on the account who might be slightly less distraught and more clear-headed for speaking to your rubbish collector is a good idea. Also, this seems as good a place as any to point out that you'll have some extra paperwork to do at tax time for a couple years. (Death and taxes, though--the IRS has customer service folks who are great at this. Call them. They're so kind and incredibly helpful.)

2. Similarly, share your passwords. To everything.
I mean, if you don't already have access to each other's accounts anyway, that's probably something you should talk about. I'm all for respecting each other's space, but to keep passwords secret is to invite some problems in. However! The real point here is that if you're felled by serious injury, hospitalization, or worse, your spouse will probably need to get into your computer sooner or later. Make sure passwords are stored somewhere everyone can get them.

3. Any special instructions/bequests need to be written down.
I'm lucky enough not to have had interfering relatives on either side of the family. (Of course, they were all far away, so...) But if you think there may be a relative, friend, neighbor, etc. who will muscle in at the worst possible time to claim Great-Aunt Myrtle's antique vase as his or her own, make sure your spouse has some ammunition to fight back. People as young as I am may not want to go to the bother and expense of writing a formal will (unless you have a condition that you know will shorten your time on this earth), but at least write some stuff down.

4. Know your rights.
I can't speak to same-sex couples, couples of different nationalities, common-law marriages, separated/blended families, or others that are outside my experience, so I urge you: do your research for your particular situation and make sure all your bases are covered. Y'all may be in need of legal documents that I didn't necessarily have to have.

5. If you have any ideas for a final send-off, it's never too early to say so.
The only things Chadwick and I talked about ahead of time were donating organs and the tree-planting thing. The first one obviously had to be dealt with right away, but I still haven't planted a tree (I have three places in mind, but haven't spoken to any of the property owners about the possibility of putting a memorial tree there. It's not like he's going to get any less dead, right?). We ended up having a Lord of the Rings-themed funeral, not on purpose, but we're pretty sure it's exactly what he would have wanted. Here's a hint: building a barricade at my funeral would not be inappropriate.

6. You're not going to be ready for the stupid stuff people say.
Similarly, your experience will not stop you from saying stupid stuff in your turn next time tragedy strikes someone you care about. It's part of being human, so unless it's a person who has a history of being thoughtless/causing trouble/etc., and as long as they don't repeat the ugliness over and over, let it go. If it's either of those two things, it's okay to reduce or cut off altogether the time you spend with them.

7. You're not going to be ready for the outpouring of kindness.
Tell the first person who asks, "What can I do?" to bring over some tissues. You're going to need them for more than just the obvious reasons. Humans can rise to amazing heights when called to it. Be willing to let people do things for you that you can't do for yourself.

8. You're going to need a Keely.
Any you can't have mine! A good friend who is a solid rock in times of crisis is invaluable. Keely could take on all nine Nazg├╗l by herself and come out having kicked some undead backsides into oblivion. You shouldn't be going through life without a Keely, anyway, so get to work on finding one of those. (And on being one of those for someone, of course.)

9. Dying is expensive.
Your bank account is going to take a ding. It's a bummer, but it's true--those of us under 50 generally haven't started paying for a funeral, burial plot, etc. I managed a funeral on the cheap, so it can be done, but you'll still have to shell out some cash. Even for younger and/or childless folks, a small life insurance policy may be worth it to cover final expenses should the worst happen. (If you have children, you should already have a policy.) Your credit score will likely fluctuate as well when you change all your joint accounts to individual ones. Also, that bill you get for the final ambulance ride/ER trip/DOS pronouncement is going to be the worst bill of your life.

10. You have hidden depths within you.
I still hear "You're the strongest person I know" or some variation thereof from time to time. While I do think the folks saying that must not know many people, I appreciate the sentiment behind it. Comparatively speaking, I had it easy--no children to parent through grief, no house to decide to keep or not, no meddling or blame from the in-laws (and I've heard some horror stories on that front!). Your journey, if it comes, may be harder. But you have the strength within you to walk the path, as awful as it is.

15 February 2017

Shuttling Between

Once upon a time, I rode a Greyhound bus from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Indianapolis, Indiana, and then a few days later back to Lubbock, Texas. Believe me when I tell you: I never, ever want to do that again.

So... this is not a bus station. But this pic is from a trip to
Dallas last year, and at the end of the trip I took the train
back downtown to get back on my Megabus home.
That's what this photo is from.
However, I do willingly hop on cross-country buses for short segments between Midwest cities, including the Greyhound from time to time. It seems the presence of low-cost carriers (near me, we have Megabus and Barons Bus) have pushed Greyhound to up its game from back when they were the only outfit in town. I don't know how other folks make the choice between the two, but I choose Megabus when I have a couple weeks' advance notice and they have reserved seats available. Megabus is great for saving some cash, but is less great when passengers spread out over two seats and insist that their seatmate is just in the bathroom. To avoid a Forrest Gump scene: if I can't get a designated seat, I don't ride. So in those instances, or if I have to do a last-minute thing, I choose Greyhound. 

And I will add, while on the subject, that my last couple of Greyhound trips have been fantastic. Agents in the bus stations and drivers on the buses are all wonderful. However, that won't stop me from choosing Megabus when it can save me some cash. (I have no opinion on Barons Bus yet. Maybe soon.) The benefit of any of them, of course, is that I can read or sleep or whatever instead of driving.

This is on my mind right now because I went to Greenfield last weekend to visit my living grandmother and visit the grave of my not-living grandmother, but I wanted to be back in Cincinnati on time for church on Sunday. No bus option worked for me getting back without causing massive inconvenience to my family, so I took a Zipcar instead. I had the flexibility to get back on time, but unfortunately it costs four times as much as the Megabus on a busy day. It is as Terry Pratchett wisely noted in Unseen Academicals, "The less the money, the slower the travel," although when I consider that I'll have to work four times as long to have a little bit of flexible time--for most visits, it's not going to be worth that tradeoff.

Obviously, I want transit in the U.S. to keep getting better, faster, and more convenient, without sacrificing affordable prices. An Amtrak that came through Cincinnati not in the middle of the night, and that maybe would take fewer than 14 hours to get me to D.C. (plus another five hours to NYC, for goodness' sake), would be a dream. What would it take to get that?

14 February 2017

Is It Still a Secret if You Can Just Read It?

After I saw The Secret Garden the first time, only days after re-reading the book, I planned to write a blog post about my impressions of the characters in the book vs the musical. Then I wrote that post and it turned out I had a lot to say about Rose. So here are a few more folks just to round things out a bit.

Since I have two Playbills to choose from, I chose the one
where nobody wrote on Mary's face.
Easy part first: the only dynamic characters in this story (book or musical) are Mary, Colin, and Archibald. For better or worse, everyone else is static, unless you count the folks who were alive and then dropped dead. However, I don't. Even though I think the musical hints at the Lennoxes neglecting Mary in a way that the book makes explicit, the Musical Lennoxes spend all but one scene hovering near her. That's not an arc; that's a personality switch due to no longer being alive.

Dr. Neville Craven: Does not have a name in the book, so that much is from the musical. Book Neville has his own house instead of being Colin's live-in doc, and while he's not opposed to the idea of Colin conveniently dropping dead and leaving him as the Misselthwaite heir, he won't let Colin come into harm if he can help it. The "villain" in the book is Colin's illness and inactivity, not Dr. Craven, so his evil side has to be amped up in the musical. And he's a great villain, the more so because he doesn't seem so bad at the beginning. Musical Neville is the quietly plotting, scheming bad guy who finally throws all caution to the wind and accidentally outs himself without Mary having to tell Archie what a horrible person his brother is.

Martha Sowerby: Martha is the oldest of 12, although we only know the names of a few of the other children. There's no telling how old she is (I've always presumed she's around 16, although she could be as young as 13, since her younger brother Dickon is 12--or she could be 20. Who knows?), but she's clearly been paying attention to her mother's words of wisdom and solid work ethic. As literary archetypes go, she's probably most like a Mentor. As dutiful daughters go, she's amazing--not only going home on her day off and helping her mother look after house and younger children, but also bringing home all her wages to do her part to keep the family fed, clothed, and housed. We don't really see that side of Musical Martha, who is more of a Mother Figure to both children than a Mentor. Also, Musical Martha sees Lily in Colin's face, which adds more mystery to how old Martha is. It's canon that Book Lily (Lilias, technically) visited the Sowerbys often, but in the musical you can get the impression that Martha worked at Misselthwaite when Lily was alive. But surely Lily wouldn't have approved of hiring a 10-year-old. It remains a mystery. (Mind you, in the most recent show Martha was played by an actor in her 30s and Dickon by an actor in his 20s, so apparently it doesn't matter that much.)

Come to the garden, but wash your face first.
Dickon Sowerby: The first thing Mary notices about Book Dickon is that he's clean. Clean. Musical Dickon goes around with dirt on his face, which his mother would almost certainly have some words about. Anyway! Dickon also helps keep the family fed, quite literally, by tending a vegetable garden. And he's another Mentor character to both Mary and Colin. And he's amazing, in both book and musical. I can totally believe that the song Book Mary heard him playing on his flute was "Winter's on the Wing." (Jenna will no doubt be disappointed that I shared a clip of anyone other than Charlie Franklin singing that song, but... there's not one of him.)

And finally... Mrs. Medlock: Not exactly a villain, but not really a good person, either. She's in the tough spot of keeping Archie's secrets, looking after an empty house, and making sure the unpleasant new arrival (Mary) disturbs neither. Book Mrs. Medlock is a friend of Martha and Dickon's mother, but then makes sure to tell Martha that if they were in a proper great house, she couldn't possibly have hired someone as poor and plain as Martha. She leaves Mary alone to do what she likes, but then threatens to lock her in her room when she catches Mary wandering around doing what she likes. Book Mrs. Medlock has to give up going to a close relative's wedding to collect Mary from the train station, and Musical Mrs. Medlock reacts by telling Mary that Archie wouldn't bother himself about her, planting the first seed of doubt in Archie's affection for Neville to bring into full bloom later. In short, she may not be a baddie, but there's not much to like, either.

I promise I'm not doing this with every book that's been adapted into something else, although I would love to see the Little House on the Prairie musical someday. In the meantime, if you really want to know what fans think of beloved books vs, oh, I don't know, perhaps their major Hollywood blockbuster films--the folks on Tumblr are always ready to tell you all about it.

13 February 2017

One Week More

One week to go! I have a final speedwork planned, which means not a thing here in Su-Land because I'm not that good at it, but otherwise four easy running days this week before Sunday.

By the way, here are Cincinnati and El Paso's forecasts for next Sunday. I'll let you guess which is which:


So much for that "warm weekend getaway" plan. At least there are still lovely people to see. I hope they don't all need to urgently go out of town on Saturday.

Get excited, y'all, we're about to run 13 miles!

12 February 2017

Word

The church I've been attending the past few weeks asked everyone to choose a word for 2017. I wasn't there at the beginning of the year, so I was late to this party, and in fact just got a blank card for my word last week. I didn't know what my word was going to be, except that it was definitely not going to be "New," because that's what my life has been about for two years and I'm ready for different fun now.

The church meets here.
They don't own the building.
I don't know what it used to be.
But because my brain has this really irritating tendency to grab hold of one thought forever and ever, amen, once I thought, "Definitely not 'new'," the verse in 2 Corinthians, "Therefore if anyone be in Christ, she is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new," lodged in my brain and wouldn't get out again. (That's the KJV, because I love the phrasing of "all things are become new." Also made a couple small gender modifications because I'm a she, it's Greek, "he" is not in the original, etc. If that bothers you, I don't mind.) So I brought my card home still blank.

Sunday morning, after a day out of town, I rolled back into my apartment just long enough to put my stuff down and see my blank card still sitting here all empty, which got the brain puttering along in the "all things are become new" rut it's settled into. When I got to church, there was an entire stack of blank cards and a request that we all write down our words so we could be mutually encouraged by the words that had been chosen. Into my head pops 2 Corinthians 5:17 (I do hope you're reading that as "second Corinthians" and not any alternative phrasing), followed by "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation." Yeah, okay, if my brain is going to make connections I may as well run with it. (Watch that entire clip only at your own risk.)

Creation. Creation is my word for 2017. Here goes.

11 February 2017

Medaled

February is still fired, but I at least went to visit Grandma's grave and finally leave my half marathon medal there. It only took a visit to three different stores to get a shepherd's hook to hang it on.

The one with the green ribbon.
After we visited all the family graves, we noticed some old stones on the way out, so we drove around to the oldest section for the interesting part of the visit. The oldest one we saw was from the 1840s.

My dad said this was one of the city fathers (or something).

This was a pretty one.
This was the only round one I saw.


These were pretty much worn down.

10 February 2017

In a Jam

Remember a few weeks back when I wrote about staying warm while keeping the energy use under control, and a bunch of you shared your own strategies for taking on winter as green and cheap as possible? Well, I got my first proper winter electric bill and was pleasantly astonished to see it was much lower than expected. Result!

On to today and my favourite reusable thing ever.

Would that I were this fancy. Image source:
marsy on freeimages.com.
I'm slightly obsessive about saving jars. Jam jars are my favourite, closely followed by the pasta sauce that comes in the canning jars. (My grandma tried to steal my pasta jars from me when she saw how great they are. I think she got her hands on a couple of them before I caught on.) Glass doesn't leach chemicals or nasty tastes into my food, and since it's clear, I can see what's in the jar without having to play the guessing game plastic always leads me on. Plus, when I'm feeling adventurous, jars can go from fridge to microwave to table as easily as anything else, provided I have an oven mitt handy.

And that's just the leftovers. Jars also house my dried beans, rice, flour, etc. in my cupboard. I use them for basically everything. My only issue is lids--for the jam jars, at least, the lids don't last as long as the jars do. On the upside, glass recycles forever, so no need to feel bad if your collection gets out of control and you can't find new homes for them all, so you toss them (gently!) into your recycling. They'll be made into new glass products.

What's your favourite reusable thing?

09 February 2017

Be the Change

A handful of nonprofits have gotten big press and plenty of donations (or the other kind of press and a drop in funds) lately, which is all well and good and indicative of the kind of work they're doing, the kind of work the general public agrees we need more of.

Isn't this great? It's from I Live Here, I Give Here, the
geniuses behind Austin's day of giving, so if you're in
Central Texas these are folks you want to check out!
For the rest of us, Google is still your friend to find
a deserving nonprofit.
But don't forget plenty of good work is also being done in your own backyard, by nonprofits too small to compete for big headlines but that have big visions. They need your support, too. And the great news about the nonprofit sector is that there's probably one that matches your interests just waiting to tell you more about they great stuff they can do with your help.

It's okay to be worried. It's okay to be frustrated and angry. It's essential to keep pressing our elected officials, to continue the calls and the emails and faxes so they know we're watching. But it's also a time to do some good in the world, to practice justice and love mercy, and there are plenty of organizations who can help you multiply your time or your donations or both into amazing results. Do good today!

(Full disclosure: I've spent a significant chunk of my working life in nonprofits. Which is why I have confidence that good is being done by a group near you. Go and do likewise.)

08 February 2017

No Rolling in OH

Someone asked me this week how life without a car is working out. I said, "Not as well here as it has other places."

Don't let the cute logo fool you.
Cincy's transit authority is
called SORTA for good reason,
as in: "Do you have transit here?"
"Yeah, SORTA." Image source.
By design, most things I need to go to are within a two-mile radius. The furthest I generally go afield is on a long run--certainly not for regular life stuff like work or groceries. (Thank goodness!) I'm incredibly lucky to have been able to build my life this way. Plenty of folks around here are not so lucky, and the Cincinnati transit system is failing them, I'm afraid. (Transit across Ohio is pretty well the pits. It's not just Cincy. Plus there's this thing happening to do with Medicaid and transit funding in Ohio, which will end with even less cash for Ohio public transportation. Boo.)

Like about half of America, my existing dissatisfaction with Uber finally reached a boiling point last week and I switched ride-sharing services. Truth be told, I would have moved to Lyft long ago, except when I first moved here they didn't go where I needed to go. Now that I've contracted my mobility needs and they've expanded their coverage, Lyft works just fine.

Except it doesn't. Ride sharing fills a gap for me and others who are able to pay for it, but doesn't address the underlying issue of insufficient transit. It's not a long-term solution for any city to rely on, and it's not a long-term solution this human wants to rely on, either. Cincinnati, and indeed Ohio, needs to get serious about transit or risk the continued population exodus from folks who are chasing not only good jobs, but also quality of life that includes a range of transportation options. This is hardly a new idea, and I'm puzzled as to why Ohio is taking so long to get on board. Even Texas is doing better than this, for goodness' sake.

No one should be left behind only because car ownership is out of reach. But right now, that's exactly what's happening in Ohio.

07 February 2017

What I Read: January

Here's what I read in January.

Books are in alphabetical order by title (ignoring articles, obvs). If you want to see them in a different order, let's be friends on Goodreads and you can peruse my shelves to your heart's delight. As always, book images and links are from Goodreads, and that's where you can read my reviews, too.


First-time reads:
The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World, Margaret C. Sullivan
An Old-Fashioned Girl, Louisa May Alcott
Stardust, Neil Gaiman
The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily, Rachel Cohn, David Levithan


Re-reads:
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily, Rachel Cohn, David Levithan (Yes, I read it twice.)


Books by women:
The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World, Margaret C. Sullivan
An Old-Fashioned Girl, Louisa May Alcott
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily, Rachel Cohn, David Levithan


Goodreads challenge: 4 of 52 books in 2017

06 February 2017

Crunch Time

Twelve miles yesterday (another unseasonably warm day, which I know is problematic on many levels, but it makes my life a bit easier) for my longest long run before El Paso. Half marathon plans don't really include a taper as such, just an easy final week, so I still have some solid miles this week coming before the more relaxing week hits.

My 12 mile run kinda turned into a 12 mile photoshoot,
so that's probably a little more time I'll shave off
in El Paso. This is in Eden Park.
I've been thinking in the ramp up to the 12-miler that this run would probably be a good indication of my race time, once I factor in race day adrenaline and crowd support and whatnot, and if that's really the case--I can live with it. In fact, race day will probably be faster with a downhill finish, instead of the uphill one I have here at home. And if I do have a decent time in El Paso, that should give me a nice boost for a PR chase headed into Indy Mini training.

Treadmill miles last week--I did one day of a before work/after work split, and I think I gave my coworkers a fright when they saw me dripping sweat in running clothes. (We have a shower at the office, which I only found out this week. THIS CHANGES EVERTHING.) So I grabbed some loose cover-ups and added them to my bag so I don't have to walk through the office in form-fitting clothes right when folks are arriving for their work day. I mean, I want them to like me, not run when they see me coming.

And finally, with two weeks to go, no one is even allowed to think about germs in my presence. I'm about to get scary obsessive about hand sanitizer. Think healthy thoughts, y'all.

05 February 2017

They Tell Me It's Super

I realised a few days ago that my already sparse knowledge of American football has become even sparser in the last year or so, and I'm pretty sure that's because God loves me and has surrounded me with people who have other interests to talk about. (And believe me, I did my time with the people who can't talk about anything else.)

Football is basically this, right?
But without the singing
and the major character death?
However, I still managed to scrounge up a couple football-related stories this season that I'm not sure I ever shared. The first one happened when Jennie & I got back from our fun-filled weekend seeing Wicked, and we arrived at Billy & Jennie's house in time for Texas (my alma mater) v Notre Dame (who live in my home state).

Me: Are they at home?
Billy: ...
Me: That means something different for you than it does for me, doesn't it?
Billy: Yeah. They're in Austin.
Me: Great, so they're at home.
Billy: No, they're not.

But it gets better, because when he got up to go refill his drink or whatever, I said, "Oh, is it intermission already?" and without even blinking, he said, "Yep." Y'all, I make a lot of fun of my brother, because as his older sister it is my sacred duty, but he really is a treasure. It wasn't until much later that night when I mentioned that I appreciate his ability to translate Su-speak into English that he said, "Oh, you mean like when you called halftime 'intermission'?"

Yes. Exactly like that.

Speaking of people who are treasures. Thanks for
putting it into my language, Tony Awards.
(Some bright spark on Instagram said this is demeaning
and insulting. To be clear: that's only true if you're actively
looking to be demeaned or insulted. Have a laugh, would you please.)
Story #2 happened when my parents were moving my stuff into my Cincinnati storage unit, which happened to be up the street from one of the two professional sports stadiums in town. Dad asked, "Is that the Bengals or the Reds stadium?" I said, "Do either of those two teams play tennis?" He said, "Right. Never mind," and asked a friendly-looking pedestrian instead. (It was Bengals stadium. Sometimes I manage to remember for minutes at a time who the Bengals are.)

Enjoy the game, y'all. I still don't even know who's playing. (Don't tell me. I treasure my ignorance.)

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