Sunday, December 18, 2005

Ho, Ho, Go!

Aimee, Jill and I were just in a holiday 5k fun run today. Aimee has accompanied me on long walks before and one time was able to jog about two miles.

This morning she ran about a mile and walked pretty much the rest of it. Jill took off and continued to run just after a mile. She then reappeared at the two-mile marker after backtracking a bit.

She told me to take off and go run the rest of the course. But I told her that I wanted to stay with Aimee and that I wanted to see her cross the finish line. As a family we walked and ran the last mile and ran through the finish line together.

Aimee finished at 53:45 for her first 5k…it was a great moment.

Margaret & Me

Back in 1968 I attended the Head Start education program in Hollywood (and yes, I’m old). My mother was interested in childhood education; my mom brought me along and put me into the program so that she did not have to pay for a babysitter and so that I could learn along with the rest of the kids. One of the kids at the center and whom I was friends with was routinely picked up by his grandmother. My mother would make small talk with her and talk about the kids and education. One of the things that my mom was able to get from her was that she was still in pain from an injury that she sustained on the set some thirty years earlier. That the 3rd degree burns that she received from the scene where she was departing angrily from Oz without the ruby slippers still caused her chronic pain. I remember seeing her quite a few times and a couple of times we exchanged smiles.

I didn’t make the connection that she was the one with the castle, broomstick, full contingent of guards (that went oh-wee-oh, eee-yoah-aaah) and flying monkeys.

Even if I did I was more scared of the actual Wizard himself, for he was loud, angry and could summon fire.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Dog

It’s been almost three years since our Alaskan Malamute Sterling died.

He was a fantastic animal, strikingly beautiful, noble, dignified. He would stop traffic (literally)

But most important, he was a family member and friend.

His loss left a large hole.

We tried to get another Malamute but that failed miserably. The dog was more monster than animal, more beast than pet, destroyer of all things. Upon biting the kid it was over. He was sent packing.

We knew that without a dog that something was missing, that something was not right. People started saying that it was time for us to get another dog.

Jill and I were just walking out of Paradise Bakery and we saw a dog, a puppy. The puppy was just sitting there staring at the door waiting for the owner to come out. The dog would not make eye contact with us; it was intent at keeping its focus on the door to await its parents. We stooped to pet it and we instantly fell in love with it.

Just then the owner of the puppy came out. We found out that the puppy was an Australian Shepherd and that there was one more female left from the same litter. Immediately we contacted the breeder and took the last of the litter.

Ruby is now a year old. She’s high spirited, sensitive and intelligent. She tries to fit in as a member of the family. She even gets along with the cat.

We’ve had a few minor mishaps. Ruby hacked a hole on the backside of the bedspread. Jill lost three pairs of shoes, my iPod armband was destroyed, but other than that just tissues, paper towels and napkins are found shredded about the house. So far so good.

Ruby likes to run. A dog was chasing her in the park. As soon as the dog got even close Ruby looked back once, then hit the hyperspace button. She was gone. The pursuing dog saw this, lowered it’s head and just slowed to a trot and turned around.

With Ruby in our lives the family is once again complete. We have a dog and for some reason that fills a need in our life.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A Relationship on the Rocks

It started about 2 years ago when Aimee was 5. We were at a local park and she wanted to play on the jungle gym. Instead of having a ladder or net to get to the top of the slide the gym had a mini rock wall with beginner handholds. Aimee was fascinated with this and I noticed that she was compelled to climb it over and over again. The slide was just a means to get back to the rock wall quicker; the fun part for her was the climb.

One weekend I had to watch the kid while my wife worked so I took her to the
Phoenix Rock Gym
in Tempe.

The place is cavernous. All of the walls are 30 to 40 feet high, most are rated climbs, many with over vertical ascents. Aimee looked teeny in comparison. Excitedly she donned climbing shoes, a chalk bag and a climbing harness. After watching a short training video we were ready to go. It was amazing. Aimee was fearless. She was able to scale a 30-foot vertical wall in about two minutes. Some of the more experienced climbers are amazed to see how well she was doing at such a young age. About a year ago there was a group of men climbing right next to us. The man on the wall saw that he was just about to get passed up by a little girl. One of the guys down below shouted, “ Hey you are about to get your but kicked by a little girl.” By that time Aimee was level with the man. Both looked at each other for a second then raced the last 20 feet to the top. The man made a critical mistake with his footing slipped and fell. Aimee never looked back and easily made it to the top. The group of men slinked away in embarrassment. Since then we have been back about two dozen times and she continues to get better.

Today she tried something that she had never attempted to do before, cracking and jamming. It’s a technique where the climber jams their hand or foot into a crevice to gain a hold to climb. In doing so she injured herself and sprained her wrist. Rather than crying and giving up she asked what I could do so that she could continue to climb. I found some athletic tape at the front counter and wrapped her wrist. We got another 4 climbs out of it.

Jill has gone with us on occasion but for the most part going to the gym to climb has been our thing and has helped build our quality time together.

Beat the Clock

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
J.R.R. Tolkien

One of the most important things that my father said to me is to not waste time. He said that between time and money it is better to waste money. You could always earn the money back; once time is gone you can’t get it back. He was always on me about playing video games or working on something that in his mind would never make any money…like writing.

On a daily basis I use a schedule to keep track of my time and task management. Because my job is time and task oriented it is imperative that I have a solid handle on my day.

Between work, school and family every second counts. Some time I have days that are just non-stop from 7am to 2am. Many days I get only a couple of hours of sleep.

I tell myself that something, someday will eventual come of all this nose to the grindstone bull$#!t. Until then I just continue to buzz on like a hummingbird wishing that I was more like a starfish.

There are moments that I feel like the need for total time efficiency is a myth, that I shouldn’t have to plan when I am going to use the bathroom and that there is something to be said for decompression. To have the ability to relax and just do nothing.

Sometimes even our vacations seem manic. That we have every minute of that day planned out driving to see one family member then drive on to the next, then on to an amusement park. Sometimes I think that I just don’t know how to have fun, that maybe my father got the best of me and sent me on this path of self-implosion. Now that I can do what I want I can't. That little voice inside of me tells me to keep moving and to do something with my life. Another irony on top of all this is that I can’t play video games even if I wanted to. I tried and got nauseous on a first person player type game.

There was one vacation where we rented a cabin in the woods. We did absolutely nothing and it was great. We had a fire in the fireplace and we played board games. At night I would go out on the patio and watch the Milky Way drift overhead in the night sky as the wind blew through the pines. One morning Aimee and I sat on the porch in our raingear and watched a storm as it passed overhead. As the rain hit the roof I could hear Aimee’s breathing change as she fell asleep. It was a perfect moment. I was doing nothing and was the better for it. When I got back to work people said that I was a changed man. I need to do that again

For as important as it is to organize and control your time, it is as important to not control it, is equally important to do nothing, to decompress psychologically, to have a quite moment to rest and relax: Because one’s sanity is a terrible thing to waste.

Hi, My Name is Ed and I’m Fat

I’m addicted to sugar.

You name it. Every kind of desert, chocolate, cookies, cake, I just inhale it.

I weighed a whopping two hundred and forty four pounds.

I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to do something.

I joined Weight Watchers.

Jill wanted to join so I asked if I could go with her.

I was already exercising; it just didn’t matter because I ate like a pig. I was a fat man on the treadmill, like a fat hamster on a Habitrail wheel.

As a man going to a Weight Watchers meeting it is a strange experience. I am the only male in the meeting. The whole experience and communication to the members seems to be geared for women. There are butterflies and rainbows on all of the pamphlets and handout materials. There is a total lack of machismo to the program.

The first couple of weekends were easy. I lost 6 pounds the first week, 3 the second and 1 and change for the third. I got my 10-pound ribbon this week. So despite the lack of manliness about the program it does seem to be working.

I still have a long way to go. I want to lose 50 pounds total and be back at around 195. That seemed to be about right I had been thiner back in my running days and got down to 180 with a 6% body fat content…it just didn’t look right.

There are still days that I do not count points. I am still losing weight…just not as much. I’ll get there soon. The good thing is that I continue to run and that I am getting better at it everyday.

I have signed up for the PF Chang’s half marathon.

I’ll keep you posted.