Sunday, December 30, 2012

Can't. Stop. Laughing.

So periodically I check my blog to see if the three regular readers are posting any comments and found a real doozie of a comment to my most recent rant: Maniopausal.

I know, I know, posting about it and not deleting it (and publicly laughing about it on Facebook) is only perpetuating the filth, but SERIOUSLY.  I. WAS. DYYYYYYINNNNNNNNG with laughter when I read it.

So let's break it down, shall we?  The blog is called www.boycottamericanwomen.blogspot.com and it has some of the funniest shizzle posted by several completely desperate 40 year old virgin men.

The first paragraph almost made water come out of my nose:
I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don't know how to cook or clean, don't want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

I'm reading between the lines here, but what I THINK he's trying to say is:
I am a teeny tiny (in every sense of the word) little worthless man who has never gotten laid, went on a date or had any woman ever speak to me except to say "would you like fries with your order" or "whole or skim milk in that latte sir?"  So, instead, I found a wife through this company: www.buythirdrdworldbrideswhoaresogladyouhaveindoorplumbingtheywillgiveyouablowjob.com.

Now, if I were an American man, currently married to an American woman I'd be pretty pissed.  "What intelligent man would want to get involved with American Women?" seems a little teensy bit over the top offensive and a horribly sweeping generalization.  I mean, that would mean that my husband, your husband, the neighbor's husband and all other husbands are stupid.  And I'm pretty sure my husband could kick this guys ass from here to Tuesday.  Hell, I could probably kick his ass.  And mop the floor with him in Jeopardy.  Well, at least my husband could.

The next part was also entertaining:
American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

So what he's saying here is his ex-girlfriend is a 20-something sorority bitch (as a former sorority girl I can totally say that and get away with it, K?) and she's super duper sorry for sleeping with his roommate and passing along that little STD.  Nothing a prescription won't fix.

I am super curious where he gets his statistics from, as follows:

Tens of millions of American men have had their lives completely destroyed by American women through the following crimes: (crimes, these are actual crimes, according to the law of dateless wonders like this)

1. False rape accusations (it has been proven that up to 80 percent of rape accusations are FALSE)
Really?!  In what court?  The court of your worthless opinion? He's the kind of guy who thinks just because he's married (still not sure how he could accomplish that task but humor me anyway) that he's entitled to sex whenever he wants.  He shops at Cavemen R Us, wooden clubs are on sale this week!

2. False domestic violence (DV) charges (same as above, and up to 40 percent of domestic violence victims are MALE, with their female partners INITIATING the violence)
Oh me oh my....so you're saying she DESERVED to get slapped around by you, you big waste of skin?  My bad.  MY. BAD.

3. False sexual harassment charges
Oh, now you're blaming your ass getting fired on us too?  Nah, that one is on YOU buddy....no showing your shrunken junk around the office....just sayin'.  And skipping out on sexual harassment training and then making those gross little innuendos is no excuse.

4. Financial destruction of men in divorce courts through alimony and support payments (women get up to 95 percent of their ex-husband's income and savings, as well as the house, car, etc)
REALLY?! OK, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't there a few states that are Community Property states?  I mean I could be wrong, but seems like this is just a tad bit inflated?  Maybe a little?

5. Emotional destruction of men by ex-wives who have stolen their children from them and forbidden the fathers from having custody or contact with their own children
Seems a little to close to home, perhaps I've underestimated his ability to pull ass.  Clearly he's fathered some offspring and is no longer able to see them, to which I would be inclined to argue is likely a VERY good thing.  Honest to Pete.

6. Divorced dads who commit suicide as a result
Couldn't find his profile info on the blog, but if I had I likely would have contact the local authorities.  Thinking that's a cry for help.  I see he started the blog in 2010, no doubt a recommendation from his therapist (that's how mine got started after all) shortly after his highly intelligent American wife got sick of his bullshit and kicked his deadbeat loser ass to the curb.  

I also love all these stats too:
A few more reasons to stay away from American women?
-25 percent of American women take psychiatric drugs for mental illnesses. 
Because of men like you,  jerk off.
-25 percent of women under the age of 30 have at least one STD. 
They aren't getting it from chicks you double standard little douche bag.
-85 percent of divorces in America are INITIATED by women, thus women are responsible for the vast majority of divorces. 
Because they are married to worthless little freaks like you.
-70 percent of criminals in America were raised by single mothers, thus feminism is responsible for most crime in America. 
OK, I'm not pulling a stat on this, but I'd be willing to be my new Garmin that most of these "single mothers raising criminals" is because some other asshole that got them pregnant ended up in prison, thus making them the "single mom".  Ahem.
-The majority of child molestation, child abuse, and child murder in America is done by WOMEN.
OK I want to throw down here, where in the flagnart did this freak show get THIS statistic?  He's probably pissed because that one teacher in high school that he used to stalk tossed that restraining order on his loser ass. 

I know I shouldn't justify his existence with this blog post, but truly and honestly I was laughing.  LAUGHING.  I can totally see through his "logic" and statistics.  Both Maude and I can 100% guarantee you he's a worthless, dateless wonder with a blow up doll for companionship, who hopes, wishes, DREAMS of the day he can buy some bride from Russia to bend to his every whim and make him feel like the man he'll never, ever, ever be.

UPDATE TO BLOG:
My husband has read through the now deleted comments on this blog by the complete psychotic tool "John Rambo" from Australia and has come to the conclusion that he has in fact married to a man-hating whore.  His eyes have been opened, he sees the light!  He was shocked to find my post on Crimes Against Fathers and is currently searching for an Asian wife for himself and a new cat for me.  I'll miss him, he's such a great man, but alas, as an American Woman who is fat and lazy, what on earth did I expect?  Thank you www.boycottamericanwomen.blogspot.com  you have freed him at last.  Free.  At.  Last.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Maniopausal

Maniopausal, that's what I am, that nifty little combo between maniacal and menopausal.  My family is soooooooo lucky.

It's really almost funny, well, it IS funny (I have to admit).  Many of the symptoms are really not too bothersome, the only one I will complain about are the totally irrational thoughts.

Think of your VERY worst PMS, where you were slightly paranoid, very emotionally unpredictable and completely sleep-deprived.  Now, times that by TEN.  That's me these days.

And the guilt, oh the guilt over things that normally wouldn't bother me, but my mind flips through my memories like an old roll-a-dex and then pulls one out from the very bottom of the pile, and I feel bad all over again about something I can do absolutely nothing about.  Good times...

Best part, this usually happens middle-of-the-night waking up in a pile of sweat after a colossal hot flash.  So then I'm cold, guilt-ridden and unable to go back to sleep without the aid of narcotics.  Which I refuse REFUSE to take any longer.  Time to start drinking again I suspect.

And I desperately wish for the superhero ability to command hot flashes when I need them, like in the freezer section at Safeway, Fred Meyer or basically ANYWHERE in the Walmart Neighborhood Market (that place is a fricken ice box).

All in all though I feel pretty good, and even started making a list of things in my mind about why it is totally awesome that I don't have any remnants of a reproductive system left.  Here they are, in no particular order:

1.  No more shopping for feminine products.  At least until Kaylee needs them, and GOD WILLING I have at least 4 or 5 more years until then....  And I am sure, as it did the last five years, tampon technology will have reached new heights, ensuring an embarrassing 20 minutes in the lady goods aisle.

2.  No more uterus.  Nuff said.  That thing, aside from giving me two beautiful children, has caused me NOTHING but TROUBLE.

3.  The Cliff Notes version of menopause.  Unlike many of my friends, not only did I have a primer course for about 5 months on Tamoxifen, but now I get the speed round since it has been surgically induced.  Can you imagine years of hot flashes, mood swings, and other very unmentionable side affects?  Me either, and thanks to modern medicine I don't have to.

4.  I will never ever have had to plan my race calendar around my monthly "bill".  EVER.  Thanks to the IUD, the mastectomy and now this, no period will interfere with my athletic pursuits.  Nothing says fun like menstrual cramps for 2 hours during your sprint-tri, eh?

5.  No more monthly bloating and irrational behavior, followed by an unstoppable craving for salt & chocolate.  Done, check that box.  Granted the next few months will be a little on the rough side (I think my husband and kids are pricing apartments for me for a 6 month term) but we'll all get through it in one piece.  Except for some things that I might break in a fit of menopausal rage.  It could happen.

6.  A killer excuse for going ape shit on stupid people.  I can give dumb ass annoying people a complete verbal bitch slap and then say I'm sorry, I'm in early menopause.  Don't take it personally.  K?  And they'll be like "OMG her poor husband and children".  You thought Tami was tough, wait until you see what Maude can cook up.

7.  I can coach all my friends through menopause in 10-20 years.  I'll know what books to recommend, foods to eat, homeopathic remedies to try (gotta gut this out without hormones thank you HRBC) and apartments to rent. Nothing I love more in life than being helpful to others.

8.  Hubby time will no longer need to be planned around a 28 day cycle.  No more stocking up the week before 'cause I know what's coming.  Nope, it's on.  Anytime, anyplace.  Well, in six weeks, oh, and within reason.

9.  New underwear.  My Mother In Law suggested I buy all new stuff and then burn the old stuff.  I. LOVE. THE. IDEA.  Though there won't be any sort of public burning and neighbors and friends I promise not to do it in the fire pit where we toast marshmallows in the summer.  Cross my heart.

10.  All kinds of NEW and FUN material for my book (that is not yet written, concepted or titled) and this blog.

My poor children and husband.  They are simply the best.  I hope they can forgive me for all my hot flash, hormone withdrawal, crazy ass making no sense because she's maniopausal behavior.  I hope they know how much I love them, and that Maude will only be here with us for a short period of time.  We hope.  Pray for them, would you?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bye Bye Barbie

Oh what an adventure I've had this week!  As a handful of you know I was scheduled for my second, and God willing, FINAL breast reconstruction surgery on Monday.  At the same time I opted to undergo a complete hysterectomy, removing my ovaries, tubes and uterus. 

Basically, in less than 6 months, everything that makes me a woman has been removed.  It's a very strange thought.  Having my girl parts removed means I go straight into the lightning round of menopause and I have already informed Mark that soon we might be shaving together in the morning.

Today is Thursday (I think, damn percocet) and I have a pretty good story to tell you about Monday. As with any surgery, no food or drink after a certain time of day, which for me this time was midnight. 

My procedures were scheduled to begin at 7:30am so my report time was 5:30am.  Not eating or drinking after midnight was going to be a snap, as there is nothing I want to do less than shove food in my face (unless absolutely necessary) at 5am.

We arrived at the hospital in time and got all checked in.  As some of you might remember, I have a bit of a nervous, ahem, pooper.  Before any race I tend to empty that baby out, in three trips or less to the nearest porta-shitter.

Monday, thankfully, there was a nice, clean, restroom within close proximity to the waiting room. By the time we got checked in and in the waiting room it was 6 am and time was wasting. I was a little worried about leaving in case the nurse came to get me while I was out.  In any case, I still defiled it three times before 6:30am.

I work fast.  I can be in and out of the restroom, hands washed and pants in place in under two minutes.  It's not like I take a newspaper in there with me and dilly dally.  I don't have that kind of time, nor did I on Monday.

Unfortunately, two of the three times I went to the bathroom, Murphy's Law (or whatever Law applies) meant that the nurse came looking for me, I wasn't there so they left and didn't return for another 5-10 minutes. 

It went a little bit like this:
ME:  "Mark! Oh my GOSH.  I think I have to poop.  Like right now!"
MARK:  "Then go." (oh it's just so simple isn't it?!)
ME:  "What if they come looking for me?"
MARK:  "I will tell them where you are." (makes perfect sense)
ME: "OK."

Three minutes later, I return, Mark says "They came while you were in the restroom, she said she would be right back."

I watched the clock.  LIKE A HAWK. Five minutes went by and I could feel another one crowning and didn't want to leave AGAIN and have the nurse show up AGAIN and leave AGAIN.  But I started to sweat, I thought it might just shoot out on its own, so repeat the conversation above, and again, she came looking for me and left again while I was, er, making my deposit.

Third time's the charm, as I wandered back they came & got me, mind you over 20 minutes had been ticked off the clock at this point, which meant that all the other pre-op stuff would be rushed.

As we get back to the area where you strip down to your birthday suit and they get you all geared up with an IV port the nurse walks me to the bathroom and says "I need you to empty your bladder."  Clearly no one had told her I'd been in there THREE TIMES ALREADY.  I just laughed at her and said there wasn't probably a drop left in there after the morning I had just had.

I was very conflicted all morning long, I was excited to get the hard plastic barbie tissue expanders out, but not at all excited about the hysterectomy, add to that a sprinkle of menopausal symptoms from the Tamoxifen and you get a really fun patient.  I went from cracking jokes to tears faster than Lindsey Lohan checks in and out of rehab.

It didn't help that it took the nurse and anesthesiologist three tries to get my IV in.  THREE TRIES.  I asked, after the second time they missed, if I could get that valium before the third try, but that isn't "hospital policy".  Plus, I needed to be coherent and standing for when my plastic surgeon arrived to draw all over my boobs.  I am glad that I wasn't swaying as he drew a line right down the middle of my chest with a purple felt tip marker.

The conversation with my plastic surgeon was the bright spot in my morning, discussing the shape and sizing of the implants he ordered and getting my thoughts on which I prefer.  Basically in a matter of months I went from Skipper to Barbie, and to be honest, I was not really comfortable with my big huge plastic boobs.  They just aren't me. 

Much to Mark's dismay, I chose the more natural looking version and I am really happy.  Skipper to Barbie to something in between.  I am FOREVER grateful to have pretty, symmetrical non-drooping boobs at the tender age of 40. 

And, as promised, every vote counted in the "What should I name my new boobs" poll and I'm pleased to announce the names of the twins: Bonnie & Clyde.  As my aunt says, "they'll always be on the run with me."

Next up in my pre-op timeline, the anesthesiologist lead came in to introduce himself and I swear to you he has the whitest freaking teeth I've ever seen.  Blue eyes, fit, (nice ass, I could see it even though he had on scrubs) totally adorable. 

After he left Mark said "What do you think of Dr. McDreamy?" and I totally busted up because that's what I was thinking.  I'm sure he is a real panty-dropper under normal circumstances, but I wasn't really in a place where I could even think about it much. 

I mean, I THOUGHT about it, a little bit.  Just a lil' bit.  But when you're getting ready to have your uterus removed it's hard to think of much else than that.

I quickly noted the whiteness of his teeth to Mark out of fear that I might make mention of it in a highly inappropriate way as they wheeled me into the surgical room, then giggled hysterically as I heard the nurse call him by name: Dr. McBride  McBride/McDreamy it was all too much!

I woke up in the recovery room, as expected, and was there for about an hour while they tried to make sure I was breathing well and not in much pain.   Up until Monday I was questioning my decision to do both procedures at the same time, and whether I needed to do the hysterectomy at all. 

The best news came to me while in recovery: my endometriosis surrounded my uterus and had it in a very weird place.  This explains a lot.  Which I won't go into....  No more Tamoxifen either, since those useless ovaries were yanked out too.  I've eliminated my risk of uterine and ovarian cancer and cleaned up the endometriosis that has given me trouble for well over 20 years.   

And while I am a bit sad about taking out those reproductive parts (even though I had no plans to use them further) I am glad that I made the right decision.  However, life is nothing else if not full of irony.  I'll give you two guesses where my hospital room was, and the first one doesn't count.

MATERNITY.  Yes, the maternity ward.  They put a 40 year old woman whose entire reproductive system had been removed on the maternity ward.  My dear, sweet, boob loving husband tried to request they move me before I got up there, but alas, his efforts were futile.

They put me in a section far away from any babies or mommas, and in a giant room that is larger than our bonus room here at home.  I kid you not.  It was bigger than most hotel rooms.  It LOOKED like a hotel, in fact that's what I said in my morphine haze as they wheeled me in.  Imagine, me saying every thought that comes into my brain.

I am eternally grateful to Legacy Good Samaritan for putting me in room 581, as I was surrounded by the best nursing staff on the planet.  No lies, kids.  They were simply amazing.  All of them had a sense of humor (highly important as I made all kinds of inappropriate jokes about everything and they laughed with me) and gave me the best care imaginable.  I almost didn't want to leave.  Almost.

I'm home now, recovering, trying really hard to curb that OCD human lurking inside me that wants to straighten out every room in the house.  I'm bored, I don't like TV, I fall asleep when I read and I struggle to find things to keep myself entertained. This is the hardest part for me: being down for the count.  If only I had Dr. McDreamy here to keep me company.....

I'm a survivor.  I survived childbirth, junior high, breast cancer and I'll survive this too.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Yesterday

Something happened to me yesterday, something I will never forget, because I truly felt God's presence in my life.  Yesterday started out as a day for me to get a lot of things done.  The kids had school, but I had a day off and I had many things planned to check off my list for the holidays.

Yesterday didn't start out to be a bad or good day in particular.  It was just a day.  First thing, I hit the gym to avoid the lecherous un-attractive (because if they are good looking it makes it ok, right?) older and very creepy men who would likely stare at me in the evening and I had a pretty good workout.  I zipped home and did some stuff for Cause + Event, wrapped holiday gifts for the kids and in general had a pretty ordinary day, yesterday.

I needed to accomplish a lot of "off site" stuff yesterday, including mailing some Cause + Event shirts out, a couple of holiday gifts, a Costco trip and a WinCo adventure.  Yesterday was just a typical day.  I did not even one time think about my impending surgery or the fact that I had cancer last summer.  No, yesterday was a day to just get things done and I was loving it.

After lunch I took off to check more things off my list.  While in Costco I didn't hear my phone ring, it must have been on silent or I hit that vortex where your phone has no reception.  When I got outside I realized there was a missed call and a voicemail.  I didn't recognize the number, so I listened to the message. 

Yesterday my oncologist's office called to let me know that my bone scan had been scheduled for Dec. 10.  There's nothing scary about the bone scan, it isn't because they are looking for cancer or anything like that.  It's routine, to set a baseline to evaluate my bone density going forward as I'll be thrown head first into a surgically induced menopause at the age of 40 on December 17th.

What upset me yesterday is that I had gone most of my day without thinking about cancer.  This friendly little phone call was another reminder, in a long line of exhausting reminders, that for the rest of my life I have to be looking over my shoulder.

As much as I pretend that I'm OK, I'm not OK.  Cancer (no matter how small or minor your experience is) signs you up for a lifetime of tests, poking, prodding and checking.  I never gave it much thought before, that I would only go to the doctor if I were sick or needed my annual lube, oil and filter.  I rarely, if ever, saw the inside of a waiting room, unless I was there with a sick child.

Now, and forever more, I'm subjected to regular tests, scans, questions and visits and it makes me angry.  I didn't sign up for this.  I didn't volunteer.  I don't want this.

So I was feeling really blue, really upset because I just got a cancer bitch-slap reminder in the middle of what was a very lovely and ordinary day yesterday.  I pulled into the WinCo parking lot and decided to park on the north side of the building. I don't know why, I've never parked there before.  I always park in about the same place, but for a reason I can only describe as divine intervention, I parked in that north parking lot yesterday.

I hopped out of my little white kia and opened the trunk for my reusable shopping bags (take that angry napkin waiter!) and a woman in a red BMW pulled up with her window rolled down.  "Excuse me" she said, and I walked over to her expecting to give her directions some place or answer a question of some kind and instead she handed me a newly purchased $20 gift card to WinCo and simply said "Merry Christmas." 

I was stunned, speechless and so thankful.  I am not sure what I said to her at the time, but she told me she had been driving around for five minutes just WAITING for someone to pull in and park in front of her.  That someone was me.

Yesterday at 2:30pm I felt the hand of God on my shoulder telling me that I'm going to be OK, and that there are many people who have many more struggles than I do.  Yesterday, I knew without a doubt that moment, that wonderful woman, was inserted into my life so that I could focus on something other than myself.

I took that $20 gift card and without giving it much thought, spent the next half an hour in the store GLEEFULLY picking out food for the food closet at my church.  Yesterday, I forgot all about my stupid cancer, bone scan and surgery, and focused on something much more important: someone in need.

Yesterday I cried, a lot, in the store as I shopped.  I couldn't believe that someone would give ME, randomly, a $20 gift card to spend.  I have to tell you, $20 doesn't get a lot of food.  I was completely humbled by the experience.  Even in a place like WinCo, $20 doesn't stretch too far.  I left the store feeling so blessed and so fortunate, and so not even thinking about cancer or the aftermath.

Yesterday was a wonderful day, and one that I will never, ever forget.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Portlandia Moment

Just when we thought we caught a break from bussing the kids to various sporting activities, winter basketball strikes again!  Kaylee's third grade team had a "jambouree" this weekend over on the East Side and basically had back to back games until after lunch.

I'm thoroughly convinced that the ACTUAL definition of a "jambouree" is a day long sporting event where your youngest child is only willing to watch about 30 seconds of one game and spends the rest of the morning and early afternoon begging you, BEGGING you, to play on your iPhone.  Nothing says mom of the year like shoving an electronic in my kid's face to shut him the hell up.

Like moths to a flame, if any of the other younger sibs busts out an iPad, DS, or cell phone the kids all gather around and watch.  I don't know why it is a fun time for kids to watch other kids play games, but perhaps it's just that they are hypnotized by the pretty lights.  Who knows.

Because we were on the east side ALL morning, we didn't really get to do much but snack so by the time the games were done both children (and husband) were ravenously hungry and unwilling to wait to eat until we got home. 

Mark drove around while the kids fought, I ignored them and tried to find a place to eat.  We had heard of this great place on the east side (whose name I will not mention because I really do love this place and plan to go back, and I want to be sure they let me in the door!) and BOOM it popped up on the little mappy thing on Mark's phone so we pulled in.

Never having been there before we didn't see the other, more larger parking lot until later on.  There were two spaces left in the whole upper lot.  The largest and most SPACIOUS of spaces of course is reserved for that one in 100,000 cars in Portland that needs a charge in between uses.  And it was FRONT ROW baby.  Front row.  Not even people with a handicapped sticker get front row on the east side, unless they drive an electric car.

The other space left over was rather small.  As with all parking spaces in the greater Portland metro area they are designed for only a Smart Car to park there.  You know those little two-seat cars that are basically a golf cart with a delicious hard candy shell?  Yes, those cars.

I didn't feel TOO bad as we parked between a Toyota 4 door truck and a Yukon, and we were in my little white Kia, but all the same we couldn't even open our doors all the way, which made for a pretty funny visual watching our family try and get out of the car.

I think we had "suburban" family written all over us, and the lady that took us to our table put us, the family of four, right by the back door so that every time another group of diners came in we felt the arctic blast of the outdoors.  Mind you, the place was NOT that busy, it was well after the lunch rush.  It was while we were seated at that table that we realized there was another parking lot.  But really, people, if you drive anything larger than a Prius you're screwed for parking in this town no matter what.

We sat down, checked out the menu (OMG so many tasty options) and ordered drinks.  Both kids had been up late the night before, watching a movie with Mark and I and totally gorging on popcorn and then they got up ass crack early, so you can imagine how well things were going with them being tired and hungry and all.  That's ALWAYS a pleasure.

Our waiter brought us drinks and we settled in to wait for our food.  As always, about 30 seconds after our order was taken the kids started asking when our food would come out.  Everything in this place is locally grown, source, and organic so I told them they might be awhile as they were going to have to slaughter the cow and dig up the potatoes from the garden for their fries.  They were in no mood for sarcasm.

Knowing that this place is billed as a "sustainable" business it was a bit surprising that they offered paper napkins and plastic cups for the kids, but at the time I didn't really give it much thought.

As is nearly ALWAYS the case, one of my children spilled a drink.  Theirs of course came with a plastic cover on top and I ordered just water, so the drink that got tossed was Mark's sustainable root beer.

I'm sure I've mentioned that the little boy was a little on the worn out side, so as soon as the drink went flying he totally started crying and saying "I don't deserve to go tonight!"  (we had an invitation to a birthday party that evening) and just totally freaking out.

I did what any quick-thinking suburban mom would do, whose son was coming unhinged while the root beer seeped out over the floor in the path of wait staff delivering food to hungry patrons:  I grabbed a stack of paper napkins!  Truly, there was no one at the counter when I went to ask for a towel, I really really did plan to get a towel.

But in that moment of the entire restaurant of people watching this scene unfold, I figured time was a-wasting and I'd better get moving to clean it up and reassure my son of his worth as a human being.

I kid you not, the mess was almost completely cleaned up by the time our waiter came over with his little yellow towel, most of it had been mopped up by what he probably thinks is a big ass case of napkins (but probably was maybe a half a package).

He proceeded to repeat not once, not twice, not thrice, but FOUR TIMES:  "I've got this!  Stop wasting napkins.  You're wasting napkins.  Stop wasting napkins.  I've got this.  You are wasting napkins, stop!"  He probably dabbed up 1/8 of the mess, I was almost done for shit's sake.  And I'm a grown ass woman, I don't need people to REPEAT things four times for me, my kids yes, me no.  I heard him the first time!

I am sure he could feel every little tree branch around shudder with terror as we used a handful of paper napkins made of recycled fiber.  The dude clearly is NOT a parent, or he would totally get why a mom (or dad) would grab the first available item for mopping and get it done quickly before the kid completely fell apart out of guilt and embarassment.

Honestly, I felt like the whole damn restaurant was watching us, and judging us, with a tsk tsk and "can you BELIEVE that mom used paper napkins?" and  "Oh my GAWD what was she thinking?"  or "well, how many trees did SHE just kill?"

I think the most mortifying part of it was just the nonstop lecture from the waiter as if I am a total dumbass woman with no concept of conservation and sustainability.  If you and your happy little towel had been handy, jackass, I wouldn't have needed the napkins.  And if you don't want people to USE the napkins, don't put them out.  Just sayin'.

So Mark and I have completely written an episode of Portlandia based on this experience, and I'll post it once it has been completely rejected by Fred & Carrie (totally on a first name basis since they filmed in our 'hood last summer, not to same drop or anything).

And it is a doozie, I've got to tell you.  But I'll never publish the name of the restaurant because I want to go back and they might permanently ban me from going there!  Head on over to the east side, though, if you want to have a quintessential Portlandia experience.  They.  Are.  EVERYWHERE.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Christmas Wish List

I don't think I'm asking for a lot this year, really I don't.  I want just a few of the finer things in life.  Here's my list, in no particular order:

1.  Toilets that clean themselves.  Daily.  You'd think that a busy family who is never home would not have horrifyingly smelly shitters, and you would be so very wrong.

2.  My children to have ONE WEEK where they a) behave well in school, b) turn in all their schoolwork ON TIME, and c) remember their f-ing homework needs to be turned in every. damn. day.  Just one week.  Just one.

3.  A little elf that can make my fake tree look real.  That would mean he would need to go over every branch of our excessively large 10 foot tree and "fluff" all the branches out.  I gave up after about and hour so our tree has that whole "Charlie Brown Christmas" vibe, but I turned it so the front at least looks presentable.

4.  Children that will say "yes mom" when asked to put their clean clothes away and actually PUT their clothes away, rather than saying yes but stashing them in all the nooks and crannies in their rooms so by Wednesday they can't find any of their uniform pants for school because they didn't put them WHERE THEY BELONG IN THE G-DAMN CLOSET.  On. A. Hanger.

5.  A little dish fairy that will magically move the clean dishes into the cupboard, and the dirty ones into the dishwasher so we don't end up piling dishes in the sink until we've used all the ones still in the dishwasher.  It's a vicious cycle folks.  Vicious.

6.  One Saturday morning, just one, where the kids aren't waking up at the ass crack of dawn.  One Saturday, where they actually sleep in until after 7, so we don't find them playing the computer, watching television or "making crafts" that usually results in about an hours worth of work to clean up scraps of paper and glitter glue from places you don't want to talk about.

7.  I would love my kids to stop bickering about nothing.  And everything.  And a lot of shit in between.  I feel like I have two little lawyers in my house, each one arguing their point, even though they don't even really have a good point to argue.  Oh, and I would love it if they didn't ALSO argue with me.

8.  I want my motivation to get up at 5am to go to the gym to return.  It's gone.  Gone like a freight train.  Gone like yesterday.  Gone.  So instead I'm stuck going in the evening and having creepy totally UN-HOT men watch me push the sled around the gym.  Shiver. 

9.  Holiday music like we used to hear when we were kids.  This new shit makes me crazy.  If you're going to sing an old hit, don't sing it like you're an up and coming R&B star and drag every note out by changing the music key five times and just being obnoxious.  YAY for you that you can sing, so just fucking sing, this ain't American Idol.

I think that's about it for the time being, I am sure there are other things I can think of, but these are simply top of mind at the moment.  What about ya'll?  What is on YOUR wish list?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Elf on the Shelf Is Broken

My Elf on the Shelf is broken
I think I'll send him home,
Turns out he's just as useful (and creepy)
As a garden gnome.

The kids have not stopped fighting
Since he came to play,
I don't think they'd even notice
If the damn thing went away.

I thought he might bring peace
To our chaotic house,
The kids would get along all day
And be quiet as a mouse.

Instead they've just grown louder
And more annoying by the hour,
They push and shove and kick and bite
And keep my mood so sour.

I hoped he would encourage them
To be sweeter to each other,
That's apparently asking far too much
For a big sister and her brother.

I thought they might be polite
And do what they were told,
But I guess the stupid freaky elf
Lost his powers in the cold.


Those nightly trips to the north pole
Must really take their toll,
The kids are boxing with each other
They are really on a roll.


My other beef with that damn elf
Is he can't quite find his place,
He never seems to remember
That he needs to move his face.

I'm pretty sure the kids
are on the naughty list,
That poor little elf
Is probably pretty pissed.

His presence doesn't seem to help
The kids can't get along,
I really need a drink right now
and it better be something strong.

I'm hopeful as the holidays near
That the kids can get a clue,
And learn to get along, be polite
For something different and new.

For if they don't stop freaking out
And being a pain in my rear,
I'm pretty sure that fucking elf
Is going to disappear.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

365

It seems like I use numbers for post titles a lot, so why break a trend?  If it ain't broke....or something.

I took a moment this morning to reflect on the last 365 days of my life.  Even though my birthday was Friday, today is a day I want to celebrate more.  And by celebrate I don't mean eating cake until I want to vomit celebrate, just a reflective celebration.  Today is my new birthday.

One year ago today I embarked on an incredible journey that likely saved my life.  It wasn't an easy trip let me tell you, but as I've learned in my meager 40 years, the greatest rewards are found at the end of a difficult journey.  Kind of like childbirth.  Jussayin'.

365 days ago I was a 39 year old woman who was horribly out of shape and not even remotely pleasantly plump.  I was fat.  A fatty fat fat girl.  Up until childbirth and the subsequent years of being a human garbage can for all my kids' uneaten food I was a thin girl.  A skinny girl.  But time can do a number on any of us, priorities shift, we take less care of ourselves and worry more about our kids, jobs, husbands, houses, and making sure we've TiVo'd our favorite show: Justified.

Not that prioritizing your children & family is misplaced, quite the opposite, but it's easy to forget to take care of ourselves too.  I lost my Dad when he was 70 years old because he never got the memo to be healthier, eat well and exercise regularly.

Shortly before my 39th birthday, despite myself, I had turned into the one thing I feared the most:  my father.  And when I say I feared it, I mean I feared turning into someone who didn't care about their health, someone who was content to be as they were, and someone who, if they didn't take better care would probably not see the age of 70.

I mean I did fear my dad as a kid, the tinkling of a belt buckle still gives me chills, but please note I deserved every smack on the ass I ever got (and probably more that he never even knew about!).  But that's another blog, and likely a lengthy and expensive stint in therapy.  We won't go there.

My neighbor, Cyndie, and BRF was on a program called Take Shape for Life and was shrinking before my very eyes.  I asked her about it, and got in touch with a healthy coach, and took a giant leap of faith to get started.

And it was a BIG leap of faith....I had grown accustomed to cooking, from scratch, almost every meal.  I avoided processed foods like I avoided the junior high nerd at the after school dance. (sadly, he was the only person who was ever willing to ask me to dance, but I digress, not much you can do when  you're six feet tall in the 8th grade)

But this food, while "processed" was basically medical grade food.  I had grown tired of making excuses like "I'll just be fat I guess but at least I eat healthy" when in all reality I wanted desperately to feel normal again.  I never, ever thought I would be thin.  EV.  ER.  So, I added water to my first soup and gave it a taste test.  It was passable, I thought.

Over the months I actually found many things I enjoyed eating, I was hungry less, had more energy and was able to do something I missed almost as much as I miss my Dad:  RUN.

Years of being overweight gave me constant injuries (and fabulous excuses) as to why I couldn't run.  But once I got started it was like my long lost friend came back.  And on every run I took, I thought about my Dad, and felt his presence, running alongside me, cheering me along, making up for all the mistakes he made that prevented him from being alive.

I need running like I need air to breathe and chocolate to eat.  It is a connection I have with my Dad that can never be broken, and it is how I remind myself of the sacrifice I made all those months to stay healthy and why I'll never go back.

I can't believe what a difference a year makes.  I had no idea a year ago what was in store for me this year.  As I reflect on the last 365 days I can't quite believe that I found myself again through running, lost 50 lbs, ran in a relay race, survived cancer (would NEVER have found the lump so quickly with those extra 50 lbs), started a nonprofit foundation and launched a race series that will go nationwide someday.

Getting healthy gave me my life back and sent me on a journey even more wild than I ever could have imagined.  And I can't wait to see what's next.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

39 + 1

Tomorrow, Nov. 9, is my 40th birthday.  I had planned to run 13.1 before 11am so I could cross "run a half marathon before I turn 40" of my runner's wish list.  But I realized after my bout with the flu (so bad I thought they might admit me to the hospital almost two weeks ago) that it was just that:  a wish.

It was a goal, but a wishful one at that.  I realized that running that 13.1 on a deadline makes as much sense as me entering the Miss America pageant.  None. What. So. Ever. 

I can run 13.1 anytime I want.  Anytime I want that is, when I am healthy.  I'm not.  Despite every effort I've made for almost 4 months to pretend that I am fine and good as new, I'm simply not.  And all that caught up to me in the most frightening way on October 28.

So for my 40th birthday I think I might get up early.  I'll run, make no mistake about that.  But I'll run a quiet 3-4 miles and just enjoy the run.  No pushing it, no worrying about my speed, my splits or average pace.  No, I won't even use my Nike +.  I'll just plug in the tunes and call it good.

After that, I probably won't think anything more about it being my birthday.  I'll be getting ready to celebrate another birthday: the inaugural Cause + Event Portland race on Sunday.  To be honest, I'm more excited about seeing the race than about celebrating my big 4-0.

Not that I'm bummed about turning forty, quite the opposite actually.  I'm healthier, fitter, and more active than I've ever been in my life.  I feel better about myself than I did a year ago.  I feel confident (like I could launch a nonprofit and a national race series confident) and that confidence has proven me to be right.  So far.

I'm ready to put a lid on my thirties.  As I've said they were some of the best and also some of the worst years of my life.  I'm embracing 40 with everything I am.  I look forward to being 40-something.  I'm gonna kick 40's ass.  Just sayin'. 

For the last remaining hours of my 30s I don't have much planned.  Gonna kiss my kids before I go to bed, have a snack and talk to my husband.  And tomorrow, I'll wake up and be 40 and life will go on, like it always does. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

13.1

Mile 1:  I realized this weekend that my goal of running 13.1 before I turn 40 is not going to happen.  And I lost my schmidt.  I wouldn't say I was inconsolable, but pretty close to it. 

Mile 2:  I find that interesting that one year ago I would have passed out running 2.5 miles and now I run that for a warm up.

Mile 3:  And I also find it funny that not being able to run a half marathon is so devastating to me.  A big part of that is that damn Tamoxifen.  Tami has been a regular guest in our home, and this weekend she moved in with ALL HER BAGGAGE.  It was a tough visit.

Mile 4:  After not running Girlfriends I was really looking forward to the Holiday Half on Dec. 16.  Turns out that is the day before my next health half marathon, the 6 hour surgery I will endure to get my new fake boobs and have all my girly parts removed. 

Mile 5:  Yeah, running 13.1 the day before was probably not going to be a wise choice on my part.  So I sold my bib and cried.  A LOT.

Mile 6:  For me, it isn't about the running.  It isn't about being able to say I ran 13.1.  It's about accomplishing something I set out to do. 

Mile 7:  I hate leaving goals unreached.  I almost never do.  Letting go of a goal is admitting defeat, and that's not something I take lightly.

Mile 8:  So in the midst of all my crazy tamoxifen induced blubbering I had a sort of epiphany.  My kids have school on my birthday.  I don't.  November 9 is my free pass to run that 13.1.  As long as I get it done before 11:05 am, technically I can cross that off my goal sheet.

Mile 9:  So I convinced my BRF Cyndie Pelto into mapping 13.1 for us and running it with me (she was easy to convince) and my other good friend Audrey to watch Cyndie's kids. 

Mile 10:  I'm making us race bibs, Amy's inaugural 40th birthday half marathon bib. 

Mile 11:  I think the kids will string some toilet paper for me across the street and ring some cowbells when we round the corner.

Mile 12:  So while I won't get a medal, and I won't have an official time recorded from an official race, I'm running MY half, with MY BRF on MY 40th birthday and couldn't be more excited.

Mile 13:  I'm putting a lid on my 30's, the best and worst decade of my life by running out all the good, all the bad, all the ugly from 2002-2012, once again leaving it all on the pavement.

Mile .1:  And when I'm done, I'll be 40.  And I can't wait.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Infinity and beyond

All these year's I've sworn off tattoos.  I'm totally chicken shit.  That's the honest to goodness truth.  Part of me doesn't want to "infinitely" leave a mark on my body and part of me is terrified of needles.

Thanks to the summer of 2012 the part of me that was afraid of needles has long since left the building and quite honestly, nothing is a worse "mark" than the pink dots on my sides where my drains came out or the scars in my armpits from the lymph node removal.  So I want a PRETTY scar to remember my strength.

So you know what?  I'm gonna do something I said I'd never do.  I'm going to get a tattoo.  I'm not one of those judge-y non-tattoo people taking a walk on the wild side either.  No, I never think twice about someone's ink.  It just wasn't for me.

But now I've got all KINDS of grand plans for a tattoo, but the problem is, ahem, I don't really know where to go.  I've had a couple recommendations for some good places in Portland, but of course they are booked out for FOR-EV-ER.  Hoping to call in a favor, but gotta find someone who knows someone who knows someone.

In the meantime, the extent of my artistic abilities is drawing really awesome stick figures (just ask my kids!).  I wow them daily with my amazing and detailed figurines.  I'm that awesome.

So conceptually I know what I want, or at least like a child I waffle back and forth between TWO things, neither of which I can appropriately articulate, and I stamp my foot in vein when no one gets me.

I'm toying with an infinity symbol that has the pink ribbon for 3/4 of the design and the rest of the symbol is 7.12.12 which is my mastectomy date.

The other option is a straight up pink ribbon with Survivor in script on one ribbon and the date of my surgery on the other.

For folks who know me, this probably comes as QUITE A SHOCK.  Rest assured it isn't something I take lightly (even if I do jest) and I feel like this is one of those times in my life where it's OK to make an exception to a personal rule.

Hell, I broke the "no drinking in college" rule on Day 3 (please tell me my mother isn't reading this) followed by the "no drinking during the week" rule on about day 10. Several other rules followed, mostly having to do with never missing class, then never missing on a Monday, then never missing on the first day because you're too hungover.....but I digress.

This rule, in my playbook is totally worth breaking.  I just need two things: some divine intervention to give me some artistic gifts and a good connection to a tattoo place that is willing to squeeze in a BC survivor.  Probably in time for her 40th birthday.  Coming up in like 3 1/2 weeks.  And her BFF.  Who wants to get one at the same time.  Anyone?  ANYONE?


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Curses...foiled again

To say I'm disappointed would be like saying I kind of have a crush on The Rock.  (I have a BIG ASS crush on The Rock).  To say I'm sad would be like saying it sometimes rains in Portland.  It rains here like 9 months out of the year.  To say I'm angry is like saying Lindsay Lohan's Dad has a slight personality disorder.  Need I say more?

Yesterday afternoon after a lovely little nap with my 6 year old, during which I repeatedly woke up shivering I thought I should check my temperature.  My fever was back.  And it was ringing the bell while the fly girls yell.

I did a very quick search on WebMD (my go to for medical concerns except for that time Mark had meningitis) and discovered a little warning about ladies like myself taking Tamoxifen and getting the flu.  Awesome.  NOT.

Turns out, and I'm so thrilled to find this out NOW, ahem, my immune system is compromised which makes it significantly more likely that I'll develop something awful after having the flu, unless I go in at the first sign of my symptoms and get that tamiflu stuff. (Ironic that the beginning of the drug's name is Tami, just sayin'.)

I decided to go in to Urgent Care and I do have to say I was very happy with my experience.  Normally I hate going in to those kinds of places, but these guys at ZoomCare, really were pretty great.  I had to give the whole background story on my cancer and the drug and the blah blah blah.

So, one flu swab (negative), one blood draw, and a chest X-ray later they are still not sure how to explain my 99.6 degree fever (which was down from the hour before when I took Tylenol).  I left with prescriptions and a caution that I've probably got pneumonia, but they can't really confirm it until they see all the test results.

So I had to ask.  I'm a runner, I had to know.  Could I still run 13.1 miles?  She said, and I quote: "I strongly advise against it.  You will finish on a stretcher."  Always wanting a second opinion, and because she was IMing with her supervising physician I asked her to double check with him.  I could see his response on the screen: NO!!!!!!!  Um, so you're saying there's still a chance I can run?  NOT!

So here I am, Sunday morning, writing about another race I can't run because of this stupid cancer/tamoxifen/crap.  I'm sad, angry and so disappointed.  I was supposed to give cancer the middle finger today by running in under 2 hours and instead, it's sitting there laughing at me like a bully that just knocked all my books on the ground.

If you know me, though, you know that this will just motivate me even more.  Eventually.  Right now I'm finally giving myself permission to be sad about it.  But, in the end, I woke up this morning to a hug and a kiss and a long snuggle from my little boy.  And my sweet girl is reading over my shoulder right now waiting for me to finish so she can play on the computer.

Time with my husband and children is a little gift I was given this morning and one that I cherish deeply.  Seeing my daughter's smile as she came down the stairs is something I would have missed if I had gotten up ass crack early to run.  If I had run that race I might have been hospitalized.  That was made crystal clear. 

So, while I'm sad, I remain thankful that the choice I made was to listen to my body and the reward is this precious time at home today.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Leaving it all on the pavement

It seems like every time I set a goal and I am ready and able to crush it, something gets in my way.  I'm having a poor old me moment, please excuse me for that.  Last summer I was totally going to kill my first sprint tri.

My training had me on target for a 1:45 finish, which is NOT smoking fast for competitive folks, but for me it was almost unbelievable.  Then, that whole booby cancer thing popped up and I wasn't able to compete.  Make no mistake, I'm gunning for a better time on the same sprint tri next summer.  Watch me.

Then I set a goal of a sub 2 hour half marathon tomorrow, October 14, 2012, well before I found out about the cancer thing.  But didn't give up on my training and I was trained, ready and in the best place to be able to achieve that goal, despite being 3 months post bilateral mastectomy.

Running this race in under two has been important to me for several reasons.  One of the big ones is that this is a Komen supported event, and that means everything to me.  I registered long before I knew about the lump.  I registered, at that time, because I wanted my first half marathon to be a Komen event.  And the meaning is even greater now.

Then, I came down with what I can only describe as the worst flu I've had in years.  Thank you husband and children for allowing me to take care of you, only to get it last AND WORSE than anyone else in the family.  This shit sucks.  It's made me tired.  My nose is raw from all the blowing (of the nose!) and my abs are now a six pack from the coughing.

It couldn't come at a more inconvenient time though.  One week and three days before my first half marathon, the one I wanted to sub-2 hour, the one that I was going to sub-2 hour so I could give breast cancer the middle finger and this.  This.  Damn.  Flu.

Honestly I feel like every time I'm set to achieve my goals something gets in the way.  ALWAYS.  Now I know why people wait until race day to register. (unless we fill up beforehand, Cause + Event Portland WILL have race day registration.  Jussayin')

And, quite frankly this has been a tough week for lots of reasons: starting my new job (which I LOVE LOVE LOVE), trying to get well, and then something bad happened to me earlier in the week.  Something very bad.  Something that I can't tell you about just yet.  I will someday, but right now I can't.  It's something that will live in my memory for the rest of my life, that I will never be able to be OK with.

And the hardest part of all of this has been the fact that I haven't had my usual outlet of physical activity to make peace with everything in my head and in my heart.  And I've been worrying about this half marathon, all my big talk about getting in under 2 hours and the pressure I've placed on myself.  I've got an easy out now, I've been sick.  How could I possibly be able to achieve that goal when I've been so sick?

Today at lunch I had my pity party with my family.  I sighed oh so discontentedly and verbally gave in to my fears and said I wasn't going to run a sub 2 hour half.  My husband, my sweet and wonderful husband said to me "Of course you can.  You're not going to let cancer and a cold and everything else get in your way.  You never do, why start now?"

I hugged him.  Then I started to cry (damn you tamoxifen!) and then my glasses fell off.  I asked him if he really thought I could do it and he didn't hesitate when he said yes.  I so needed to hear that.  More than anything in the world.  And I told him that very thing.

So here's my mindset:  tomorrow I'm going to run the hell out of that half marathon.  I'm going to give it everything I have, and then some.  I'm leaving it all on that pavement.  Forget you cancer, forget you cold, forget you awful incident that shall not be named, forget you all the doubt all the fear all the uncertainty.  Forget everything, except for the road ahead, good music in my ears and an amazing group of the best Girlfriends a girl could ever have the privilege of running with.

And if I run a sub 2 hour half I'll be thrilled.  And if I don't, I'll be so very proud of the accomplishment, and ever-motivated to get under 2 the next time around.  Holiday Half anyone?  :)


Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Mother of All Races

As previously noted, I'm heavily involved in the Cause + Event Portland Race here on November 11.  It's a 5K Walk/5K and 10K run and I couldn't be more proud of the work we've done so far, the money we've raised and hopefully that we've raised awareness of many nonprofits in our community to the greater Portland area.

Way back when, in January, when I said "Hey!  I think I'd like to start a nonprofit and host a race here in Portland to raise money for a bunch of charities, of the runner's choosing" I wish I could have had some kind of flash to what it would be like these past few months. 

I'm not saying that I wouldn't do this, no, I would do it ALL OVER AGAIN, and I WILL do it all, all over again.  And again.  And again.  And again.

Especially since my diagnosis last summer and subsequent treatments I definitely feel an even deeper pull to do something to give back.  I want to do something that teaches my children that there's something else out there, something bigger than what, and who we are.

I want them to know that the greatest gift they can ever give is the gift of giving to others, whether it's financially or volunteering, or helping or supporting.  I also feel an enormous sense of responsibility to make sure that I do everything I can to make this race a success.

And to be honest, I feel a great need to leave a lasting legacy.  Something that my children can be proud of and say "My mom did that!".  I want my legacy to be that of someone who took a dream and made it a reality and that reality did countless good things for countless good people and organizations.

Once, when I was first working in the business world, I filled out this "guess who" form, to see if everyone could guess who answered the questions during the office holiday party.  One of the questions was "if you could do anything you wanted to do, what would you do?" 

I remember clearly, at age 27, the answer to that question was to be a wealthy philanthropist.  Between you, me and the fencepost, I never really thought I would be wealthy, and honestly I figured the only way I could give would be to have limitless income.

But guess what?  I'm not wealthy, and I never will be, and that's perfectly OK.  What I am excited about is being able to do what I wanted to do almost 13 years ago.  Granted, I'm not getting paid for this gig, not in money.  I feel the riches though, that come with knowing that I can help make a difference.

I have a full time job (well two if you count motherhood) and I'm doing my best to juggle my job, the kids, being a wife and not letting my toilets get so dirty they look like they might walk away.  Total chaos.  TOTAL.  COMPLETE.  CHAOS.

Then throw running/training for a half marathon (which came to an abrupt halt as I came down with what I can only describe as the plague) and it's a recipe for disaster.  And yet.....I just keep my eye on the prize: helping.

So while some folks may not understand why or how I do any of this on top of everything else, I'll go back to that whole running thing and again tell you it brings me bliss.  I make mental to-do lists on the road, I have conversations with potential sponsors (and I always convince them to join in!) and I dream about what race day will be like and it makes me smile. 

And sometimes, quite honestly, I think about nothing at all. Those are the best runs, when I just run and all I notice are the leaves crunching, or the crispness in the air, or the house that looks like it was freshly painted as I don't remember it being that color the last time I came by, or the garage sale happening (I see the sign but decide to avoid that road altogether!) or a myriad of other "nothings" that make my run fly by.

But back to the race, the Mother of All Races.  Cause + Event Portland is my mother of all races.  It's not one that I'm running, well I'm RUNNING it, but with a walkie talkie! 

It's a race that has been meticulously planned by me, and a slew of other mother runners, and planning it has been just a like we, as mothers, can be to our children:  hard to figure out, emotional at times, so very giving, and just when you need it the most, making you smile and remembering why you do what you do.






Monday, October 8, 2012

My Runner Bucket List

OK, I have to admit I feel like this HUGE weight has been lifted from my shoulders, now that I've come clean about the fact that I am addicted to running. 

So, you have to know that many of my posts will be running related, just because I'm obsessed with them.  Just like I'm obsessed with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Nike running apparel, my daughter's grades and the fact that my son has red hair.  Where the hell did that come from?  I just don't.  Know.

In my fever-induced fantasy yesterday (I was DREAMING that I could go running, if that isn't obsessed I don't know what is) I created a list, a BUCKET list if you will, of races I want to run before I kick the old, proverbial bucket.

1.  Hood to Coast Relay.  Fingers crossed that our Twisted Sisters team gets an entry.  If not I'll just keep dreaming of the day.

2.  Spokane to Sandpoint Relay.  Even if they did take out the rollercoaster ride, I'm STILL in.  It is SO PRETTY UP THERE!!!

3.  A half marathon.  Any half marathon.  Hoping to cross that off the list this weekend at Girlfriend's in the 'Couve but this cold has KICKED.  MY.  ASS.  I may have to wait until the Holiday Half, which happens to be scheduled the day before my complete hysterectomy and final breast reconstruction surgery has been scheduled.  But, as always, I strive for Bad Ass Mother Runner status, so you can bet your best running shoes I'll be running in that half.  Just watch me.

4.  The Scenic Half Marathon.  This one is in GORGEOUS Sandpoint, ID and I was working for the Chamber of Commerce when this race was formed.  I would LOVE to go and run it, since I was injured I didn't get to run the inaugural race.  I'm still a little bit bitter about that.  Just a lil' bit.

5.  I want to do a sprint triathlon.  I am planning to do the Wahine All Women's sprint tri next summer.  This was the one I missed because it was two weeks after my mastectomy and you better believe I'm going to do it next year and I'm gonna kill it.  Just sayin'.

6.  I want to do a full triathlon.  Not that I'm in any hurry to do one, really I'm not.  Maybe in a couple of years.  I want to try the sprint and see if I live.  Then, we'll think about the big one.

7.  DESINATION HALF:  I'm taking suggestions on this one, but I want to do a destination half marathon someplace awesome that is really really fun.  One that requires an actual plan ride (preferably on Alaska Airlines, they give you free booze), girlfriends only and a hotel.  Ideas?

8.  I want to run the Shamrock 15K in 2013.  It will be a mere 3 months after my big ol' hysterectomy, but I'm not blowing smoke up your running skirt when I tell you that I will run it.  I'm not going to run it for time, oh no sirree, I am only running it for the beer opener medal and the bragging rights that will come with running it 3 months after major surgery.  I only hope this doesn't become a habit for me.  Big surgery, three months, big run, more surgery.  6 months of this year show that's a trend, dammit.

9.  Finally, I just want to PR the SHIT out of every race I do next year.  I'll pretty much be running 5K and 10Ks, and the occasional half marathon all next year.  And at least one sprint tri.

I don't have a #10 on my list.  I'm not going to add a marathon on there, not this year, maybe not ever.  I'll leave that to REAL runners, not weekend warriors like myself.  And I'm not going to even entertain the possibility of an ironman or half ironman (I would likely die).

No, I'm content to just keep running and be glad that I can.  And, of course, to cross off my runner's bucket list races. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Race (OK Two races)

I've got two big races coming up.  A week from today I'll run my first ever half marathon.  That is a major milestone for me.  A year ago I couldn't even run up the stairs, so the thought that I can run 13.1 miles is almost unbelievable.  But I can do it.  And I WILL do it.  And, yeah, I'm gonna do it in under 2 hours.  Even if I am sicker than I've been in a long long long long time.

Oh my goodness, this cough.  I'll for certain have washboard abs after this.  Oy.  And my nose....it's all red, and not in a cute way, from blowing my snout nonstop.  Honestly, how can one person manufacture THAT MUCH SNOT!?!?

And my head, it's like a thousand bad hangovers all rolled into one, without the nauseated feeling.  That's the only plus.

So my big worry is that I pretty much will be immobile this whole week and I know that tapering is good, but this is beyond tapering, it's FORCED IMMOBILITY.  So then I worry that I won't quite have the "stuff" to go the distance next Sunday.  But it doesn't matter all that much anymore, the fact that I can do it, that I'm going to do it, is really all that matters to me.

My reach goal is merely to achieve the ultimate gold card status of a BAMR, running a sub 2 hour half marathon a mere 3 months after a bilateral mastectomy.  My goal is simply to finish, under my own power, running the whole way.  Easy peasy.

My other big race is Cause + Event Portland, an idea that came to me in what I can only describe is divine intervention.  On an airplane ride home from Spokane for a funeral in early February I grabbed an old file folder in my bag and sketched out the entire event.

I've been involved in planning races before, but not like this.  Not like the big official keep-it-all-in-my-brain official.  No, I helped.  And watched.  And learned.  I hope.

But aside from the logistics of the race, which become so overwhelming to me on a regular basis that I say to myself "what the hell was I thinking?" and I fantasize about running away to Mexico and hoping that my committee will pick up the pieces, I am really proud of the work WE have done.

I couldn't do this alone, of that there is no doubt.  I have a crack team of Mother Runners who are helping me put together what has been described as the most generous race concept ever "invented".  What we're doing is unlike any other race out there, believe me, I checked.

What we are doing is allowing our runners to choose their own charity to run for.  We feature 10-12 local charities, but runners can choose any charity they want.  We are giving $5 or more from every registration to the cause of their choice. 

Our event is November 11, 2012 and we have a 5K and 10K distance option.  We're sanctioned and insured by the USATF and we're having our courses certified.  We don't mess around.  Our end goal is to create an amazingly generous, well run and FUN event that we can affiliate out NATIONWIDE in a few years, bringing our formula to communities across the country and raising a heck of a lot of money for local charities.

So I have a couple of lofty goals, and I don't know if I will achieve them both, but right now the one I wish the most to come true is having an amazing Cause + Event Portland race for many, many amazing charities.  Please visit our website at www.causeandeventportland.com to see what we're doing.

Now, I'm tired from all this writing, so I am going to cough my head off, blow my nose off my face and pass out in bed to rest up for next Sunday.  Lord, I hope I make it.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A bumpy trip down memory lane...

Today I received an email that I never wanted to get from my daughter's third grade teacher.  With her sweet and caring nature I never expected she would be involved in something that would bring up some very bad memories for me.

1985:  Imagine you've spent most of the 12 years of your life on earth as the tallest and skinniest kid in the ENTIRE school.  Imagine you're a bit awkward, gangly, and completly devoid of any self-esteem.

You've been teased mercilessly for years about your height, you weight, your freckles, your lack of coordination (which incidentally is why running has always been my joy- it requires nothing more than me putting one foot in front of the other) and any other reason that you can think of because you're a little different.

Every day you go to school you hope, you pray, that today will be the day the kids will stop making fun of you.  And it never is.  So you develop a well-honed sense of humor that you use to deflect those comments and pretend that they don't hurt.  But they do.  Deeply.  And you never forget.

Imagine, then, that in the sixth grade the kids, led by the class bully (at the time we didn't think of her as the "bully" we simply did what she told us to do out of fear and called her "popular") told you that you were ugly.  So ugly that you look like a dog.  And then, if that wasn't enough, the kids join in and start to bark and you, and give you a nickname that they know will really make you feel horrible: Rover.

My nickname throughout much of sixth grade was that of a dog.  Believe me, I'm fully aware that these events are nearly 30 years old, and I don't think about them much anymore.  No, not really ever at all. 

As I've grown up I've come to realize that when we try to hurt others, when we're mean and unkind, we're merely attempting to cover up the fact that we're insecure and, in many cases, need to find a way to control the one situation that is controllable in life:  how other people feel about what we say and do.  Think about it.  It's so very true.

I've spent the better part of my grown up years attempting to stick up for others when I can.  Am I perfect?  No.  Did I sometimes fall victim to the other kids and find a kid to pick on myself?  You bet.  Maybe out of fear.  I don't know.  But probably insecurity was the main thing, and the fear that if I didn't go along, that I'd be the victim once again.

2012:  Imagine getting an email nearly 30 years later from your daughter's third grade teacher that she was involved in an "incident on the playground" where, and I am surprised the teacher didn't call this out, my daughter and a few other girls were involved in BULLYING another child.  Bullying.  Another.  Child.

I'm the Mom in the Neighborhood Who Called the Police last summer because there was a makeshift "fight club" in the park nearby and little kids were on the ground being kicked in the stomach by older boys. 

As a result, I spent a SIGNIFICANT amount of time teaching my kids after the incident (or so I thought) about standing up for others when they can't stand up for themselves, or when they do desperately need someone to be there for them.  My kids were there, they saw what happened, they were scared.  And yet.

Crazy me, I thought the message sunk in.  But, alas, it did not.  So here I am, trying to explain to my beautiful daughter how important it is to stand up for our friends, to stand up for others, because I think I would have felt better if once, just one time, someone in my class had stood up for me and told the other kids to stop.  But no one did.  And I'll never forget.

My heart is literally breaking, not for my daughter's lack of compassion in this situation.  I believe that she is good at heart and will do the right thing eventually.  No, indeed, my heart breaks for that sweet little girl that they bullied today.  As sure as I know my name, I know that child will never forget what happened today and she'll always remember my baby girl was a part of it.

Here I am.  30 years later.  And I'll never forget.  It's like I'm 12 all over again.




Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Middle Finger, Or Why I Run

Like most busy moms I need an outlet for my stress.  I used to use a half a bottle of red wine every night for that outlet, then I gained 50 lbs and realized maybe that wasn't such a good idea.  It SEEMED like a good plan at first....and oh so tasty good.

But. alas, over the past several months I've sort of morphed into a bit of a different person, some good and some bad, but I'm still me.  I'm a stronger, faster, less drunk me, but I'm still me.

Last fall I went on a bit of a journey and what I discovered along the way is that, despite my personal belief to the contrary, I am a bit of a competitive person.

I was never THAT competitive when I was younger, or so I thought.  I played sports for the "fun" and I set goals "just to see if I could make them", but I didn't really see the connection.  DUH.  Fast forward about 20 years, 50lbs and two kids later and I guess you could say it was the perfect storm for me to figure out that competing against myself is a hell of a way to relieve stress.

I also discovered that alcohol, while STILL SUPER FUN AND TOTALLY DELICIOUS, is not my go-to anymore for stress relief.  I don't even think about pouring myself a drink anymore when shit hits the fan, as it has MANY MANY times this fall since the kids have been in school.

If you've known me for my nearly (GASP!  SAD SIGH) 40 years you know that for me to say I don't think about drinkin' much is a bit like saying the Pope ain't Catholic.  Hard to believe.  But it is true.  Except the Pope part.  Pretty sure he's Catholic.

So I decided to make a list of the reasons why I run, instead of hitting the bottle.  Here goes:

1.  I run because of every "Brady had a good day today but_________ (fill in the blank with any transgression that a normal boy would make like making really loud mouth noises ALL.  DAY.  LONG.)  Honestly, I cringe every time I walk up to his teacher to pick him up and she makes that little crook of her finger to "summons" me to her to get the TALES OF WOE.

2.  I run because I feel like the movie Groundhog Day with my daughter.  Same script, different play.  In other words, just when I thought we were making progress last year with REMEMBERING her CRAP (aka school work) we're back to square one after a summer off, complete with a glowing sticker chart on the fridge and promised trips to the dollar store if ONLY she can REMEMBER her HOMEWORK for five days in a row.  FIVE DAYS.  IN A ROW.  That's all I'm askin'.

3.  I run because the freaking Ice Cream truck doesn't realize it's OCTOBER.  I know it's 80 degrees but for the LOVE of GOD it's time to pack it up for the season for Pete's sake.  There should be some kind of ice cream man code of ethics that dictates that they are NOT ALLOWED to drive their creepy retrofitted kid-trolling minivan full of ice cream after labor day.  Do they KNOW what kind of arguments I have to get into with the kids over why they can't buy ice cream from a van because I don't know if he's a registered sex offender and it's almost Christmas?!  You should never wear white and you should never buy ice cream from a mobile vendor after labor day. Easy peasy.

4.  I run because even though I don't have a paying job, between volunteering at the school, keeping the house clean (I giggle as I type that, not happening), grocery shopping, running errands, putting laundry away and training for a sub 2 hour half marathon in less than two weeks I can't seem to keep my schmidt together.  I can't get it all done, and I wonder on those long runs how I ever managed it all when I actually DID have a job?  I probably didn't but I don't remember that.  I just remember thinking "if I didn't have a job I could get so much done!".  If only the me of today could bitch-slap some sense into the me of yesterday....

5.  I run because of things like watching your 6 year old son flip off his 8 year old sister without even knowing you're there.  And then watching him totally lose his shit and pretend it was an "accident" and that he never ACTUALLY did it in the first place and scream and cry about how much trouble he knows he's in.  Now if ONLY I could train him that it is acceptable to flip off the ice cream man in OCTOBER when he's driving down your street........we'd be in business.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hello my name is Amy, and I'm addicted to running

Running has become more than just what saved my life, it's what is allowing me to keep living.  I'm not a crazy runner who has to lace up everyday and log every mile, obsessively track my times and chart my progress, nope, because of my old lady arthritis I'm only able to run 2-3 days a week.

I'm not going to lie though, I am an addict.  I get such a strange feeling of anticipation about every run I go on.  I wake up earlier than my alarm almost every time (who knew!) and I get butterflies and a nervous stomach.  And that's before EVERY run, not just on the rare occasion that I "race".

But in my heart I do race every time I run.  I race myself and I race cancer.  I have recently been training for my first ever half marathon.  I registered last spring, long before I ever knew I would have breast cancer.  Ironically, it's an event that benefits Komen Oregon.

I set a goal of a sub two hour half, weeks before my bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction.  I took one month off from running after my surgery and my first post-op run was August 10th. I logged 2.25 miles at a 9:30 pace.  OK, I AM one of those people who obsessively tracks their time.  You got me.

But those 2.25 miles were the greatest miles I've ever run.  I was told I wouldn't be able to run pain free after a month.  But guess what?  I did. Suck it cancer.  I was told I wouldn't be able to swim after a month.  But I did.  That same weekend.  And it felt AMAZING.

I am not trying to brag about my accomplishments, I just want you to know.  I really just want to tell you that cancer never got me down.  I didn't miss a beat.  I got back on that horse.  All those fun little catchphrases. 

And, I've been running ever since that 2.25 miles.  Most recently I logged 10 miles in 1:34.  And the route we took was a VERY hilly course.  (again, not bragging, I just can't quite believe I could do it)

The doctors to me there were lots of things I couldn't do, but I proved them wrong.  Unfortunately no one told me I wouldn't be able to post a sub two hour half marathon.  So I don't have anyone to prove wrong, but all the same I'm pretty sure I'm going to make it. 

Before when I set the sub two hour goal it was just about saying my first half marathon was a sub-two hour time.  Now, quite frankly, it's about me giving cancer the symbolic middle finger.  Yes, indeed, I don't care about being able to say my time, I only care that I can reach a goal I set before I was sick so I can shout a big, huge F YOU to breast cancer.

I don't usually blog about running, mainly because this blog has always been about being a mom, but quite frankly running has become something that is such an integral part of my life AS a mom.  I never knew what I was missing all those years I didn't run.  Honestly, the chaos part of the blog is my life in one word.  Bliss now includes snuggling with the kids and my husband, and running. 

My head is still pretty messed from the whole cancer thing, tamoxifen has done a number on my emotions and I'm simply a total wreck.  But with every step I take in my Nike Zoom Structure Triax shoes, with every hill I run, every race I finish and every time I obsessively log and track I feel just a little more like me. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Full Time Crazy

Oh my goodness. With the start of the school year, let the insanity begin. This year I am gainfully unemployed and it's kind of weird. Not weird in a creepy short guy hitting on me outside of a bar this week (this is another blog post I promise), but weird nonetheless.

I do have plenty of things to keep me busy this fall until I can convince some poor, unsuspecting employer to hire my emotionally unstable and menopausal-symptomatic ass.

For example, I still have a few doctor appointments here and there for physical therapy, mental therapy, etc. Yes, I finally realized when I lost my shit during a consultation with a dietitian that perhaps I DO need some professional help.

Jim Beam is not a licensed therapist, and only helpful for a little while.

I also started a nonprofit foundation last winter with a group of people I hope will still call me a friend when this is all said and done. It's called Cause + Event Foundation.

We're launching a nationwide race series, starting in Portland, Oregon on November 11, 2012. The idea is that every race has a cause, but no race has every cause...until now. Our C+E Foundation will donate $5 from every registration to the charity of the runner's choice.

Running a fledgling foundation and planning a race is slightly time-consuming as well. For more information on what the heck I was thinking, here's the website: www.causeandeventportland.com.

This week I figured I'd have time to do the normal stay at home mom stuff, like laze around, eat bon bons, hit the spa, "work out", ha ha ha ha ha. SAHMs NEVER DO THIS STUFF, just so you know. No time, to tell the truth. I wish.

And may I say that I have NO FRIGGIN' idea how I kept all this school crap straight before, when I was working and didn't have an iPhone. Seriously.

Just in keeping track of calendars alone I'm losing my mind. There's a calendar with 1/2 days and in-service days that I need to track. Then there's the free dress day calendar I have to keep up with. Soccer practice and games. Volleyball practice and games. Yikes.

Then I got the "show and tell" calendar from my son's teacher. First of all, I feel like show and tell is really a once a month kind of a gig. But in his class they do it every week.

But we've got to add a degree of difficulty to it because it isn't enough that I have to remember that he's got to bring something for S&T every Thursday. No, that's waaaay to easy. Now each week is themed. Yes, THEMED.

For example, next week he's supposed to bring something that reminds him of a fun summer memory. Hmmm...let's see, his mom spent the summer recovering from Breast Cancer. Where's the fun?!

The following week is a family photo, which THANK GOD we had done at Christmas so as long as I remember it, we're good. My reminder for that morning on my iPhone literally says "PUT FAMILY PHOTO IN BRADY'S BACKPACK FOR SHOW AND TELL" with an alarm set. I think I'll go with the old "aaaooooogaaaa" car horn sound, that should get my attention at 6am.

Let's face it, we cannot expect a borderline ADD 6 year old boy to remember he has show and tell, let alone what the F he is supposed to bring.

I am, however, really worried about the last week of this month. For the theme it says "show us or tell us about a God given talent."

Yeah, so we recently discovered Brady's INCREDIBLE (and I do say that with pride) ability to make fart noises in his armpit AND knee pit. And I mean, the KID. IS. GOOD.

I was proud and mortified all at the same time upon discovery of said talent, but then proud won out and mortified just sucked it up.

That said, we have had many long conversations about the appropriate place to demonstrate this ability, so I'm really really really hoping that he doesn't select this one for S&T the last week of the month. Proud will give in to mortified, of that I am quite certain.

Even as I type this I can feel anxiety setting in because I took a "mental break" from calendaring to type this blog and I still have a year's worth of days off and half days to put into my calendar.

I'd better get cracking, and for the LOVE of GOD help Brady discover another talent, other than pit-farting. There's just nothing good that can come from that for show & tell. Well, except another blog post.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Unhinged

I'm coming unhinged, slowly but surely. I can feel the cracks opening deeper, I can feel the ebb and flow of emotion pushing further in and out. And I can tell, without a doubt, that I'm struggling to be me again.

You'd think that surviving cancer would set me along the proper path, indeed, surviving is a special gift, one that isn't always given to everyone. But, instead of feeling like I'm headed in the right direction, I've got this feeling in my soul that I made a wrong turn, that I've taken a different route.

I can blame it on many things, one of them being that I dodged a pretty big bullet this summer. Yes, as I frequently remind people, early detection saved my life. I try not to dwell on the "what ifs" any more. I am moving forward, as best as I can.

I'm letting go of the guilt. The guilt is slowly seeping down, out of my body, with every pounding step I take in my fancy running gear on the unforgiving pavement.

I can blame it on the whiplash we went through as a family: lump found. cancer diagnosed. surgery scheduled. boobs removed. cancer free. no chemo. All in a 26 day time period. I can't even believe the kids are going back to school. Where did summer go? Oh yeah, we lost a month of our lives we'll never get back. Oh yes, forgot about that.

I can blame it on the Tamoxifen, that wonder-drug that causes women to have hot flashes and mood swings, kind of like menopause in training. My poor husband. My poor children. I feel like I have PMS. Every. Goddamn. Day.

To be truthful, I've got nothing and no one to blame it on but me. I'm the one who has tried so very desperately to wear a bright shiny happy my glass is half full face through this whole inconvenience.

Yes, I'm the one who has worked so hard to make it seem like I'm OK, that I'm BETTER than OK. But I'm not, and I don't want to pretend anymore.

I promise with all my blackened shriveled up half of a heart that I won't be Debbie Downer on my blog. No, this might be the only time that I show you my guts, my raw meat, the stuff that no one sees (well except those people who carved me up and stuck temporary boobs in my chest).

But I need to come clean. I hurt. Physically I hurt. Every night these freaking tissue expanders hurt. I can't sleep on my side because it hurts, and it hurts only slightly more than sleeping on my back.

Emotionally I hurt. As much as I try to put a bird on this thing and call it art, it kind of sucks. It sucks to lose a month of your life. It sucks to recover from this shit. And it sucks to go through all of it, because my family suffers with me. They don't deserve this. And yet, I know I'm lucky and I have nothing to complain about. So I haven't been. But I'm coming apart.

I'm tired. Tired of having boobs that I can't feel, tired of being uncomfortable, tired of not being able to do all the things I used to do. Tired of feeling bad because I'm reaching the breaking point, and as I mentioned before I GOT LUCKY. So why do I feel so bad?

I don't know. I don't have any answers. I want to feel like me. I want to be me. I want my old nonexistent sad little saggy boobs back. I want to hug my kids and my husband and not feel like there's a big ass log stuck in my chest that I can't feel.

I don't want to be such an emotional train wreck so my husband and kids can count on me to be me. Normal (I know, I know that's a stretch), less hot-wired, easy tempered and for the love of all that is good and holy, not having a damn pity party over nothing.

I feel like I took a wrong turn somewhere, and I'm on a really old part gravel and part paved road, with giant cracks left unmarked, that goes uphill, never down, winds and winds and just when you think you've reached the end, there's another bend ahead.

I know with every fiber of the human being I pretend to be that I've got nothing to complain about, nothing to be sad about, and nothing to feel like this over. I got lucky, I dodged a bullet, and every other happy little catchphrase I've thrown out there.

But today, just today, I have to be honest and not blow smoke up your running skirt. This sucks. It totally sucks. Do you want to know how much it sucks? It sucks so much that I'd willingly give up running for the rest of my life to get those 26 days back and just be able to be me again.

I'm sorry for always making sure that glass seemed half full. I kidded myself thinking that I did it for my friends and family, but to be honest I think I tried to convince myself more than anyone else that I could handle this. And, I can handle this. But not today. Today I just need to give myself permission to feel sad. And so I did.

Yes. I've taken a wrong turn. But just as sure as I know my name, I know that soon I'll find my way back. I'll be on the right road again, running and smiling, and each and every day feeling a little bit more like me.