The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Monday, April 30, 2007

Assassin--The Game

NOTE: This post may seem insensitive to some in the aftermath of the Virgina Tech tragedy. I considered not writing about it, but decided that this is really about what happened to me yesterday, an ordinary person living in an extraordinary world. It has nothing to do with what happened at Virginia Tech or I how I feel about what happened there. If you find it offensive in any way, well, that's how you feel and you are entitled to feel that way.

My kids are playing a game called Assassin that involves just about the entire high school. You pay $5 to join. Everyone is divided into teams of 3. You are given a target team and you have to assassinate the members of that team. Assassination involves shooting them with a water gun. Every week the remaining teams are given new targets, so this involves several weeks of devotion and planning. The last team standing collects a big chunk of money. There are many rules that govern the game. For example, the game is not played during school hours (for obvious reasons).

Yesterday, son #2 went to the Yankee game. When he got off of the train, he saw the truck belonging to one of the kids that he knows is after him. He knew he wouldn’t make it down the stairs to my car without getting assassinated so he locked himself in the bathroom. The 3 assassins recognized me so they knew that he was hiding somewhere and they were determined to wait it out. They soon figured out that he had locked himself in the bathroom. For the next 30 minutes, we conversed via cell phone trying to figure out how he was going to get out of the bathroom without getting assassinated. This involved calling the 3 assassins who are targeting the 3 assassins that are trying to assassinate my son, which was effective in eliminating only 1 of the 3. Are you with me? So he’s now been in the bathroom for close to an hour and I’m getting tired of waiting for him to emerge, so I decided to call the police, to see if I could get them to chase the kids away. So I called and complained to the police that these kids were driving around the parking lot in circles, running up and down the stairs and shooting water guns and being pretty annoying to other passengers (all of it true). The police showed up at around the same time that the station manager unlocked the bathroom door and son #2 was officially assassinated. None of the assassins were in the truck, but the police did stop them and talk to them and I presume tell them to get lost. At this point, their mission was accomplished so they were glad to oblige. They piled into the truck and took off. My son emerged, slightly wet and we followed. When we got out of the train station lot, we saw that the police essentially waited for the boys to get into the truck and they pulled them over as soon as they pulled out onto the main road. Luckily, they hadn’t done anything wrong, like speeding or running stop signs, but the police did give him a ticket for having a tinted windshield.

The more I thought about it, the crappier I felt about it. I certainly never wanted these kids to get in trouble with the police, I just wanted them to get shooed away so I could get my son out of the bathroom (without being assassinated). So yes, I was playing the game too. And I realized that involving the police was an inappropriate way to play the game. I am also concerned that my kids may be the target of a “payback.” I have always tried to impress upon my kids that their behaviors have consequences, and this is certainly an example. But quite frankly, my kids are both too busy laughing their asses off to appreciate the life lesson. But I am still having conversations with my super-ego.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Earth Day

Sunday was Earth Day. In my part of the universe, it was truly a beautiful day, a PERFECT day on Planet Earth. I celebrated with a 20 mile club bike ride with a dozen club members that went over the Croton Dam and around the reservoir. The daffodils are out, the trees are starting to bloom, and the birds and frogs are singing. Everyone was thrilled to put their butts on a saddle and finally get out there! Great ride. In the late afternoon, I decided to go for a run, so I went over to the high school track and ran 1.5 miles. My legs felt a little weary but it was all good. And my knee was 100%, so I can bump my mileage up another quarter mile!

There was one thing that annoyed me. There were about 5 or 6 youth league lacrosse teams practicing, so about 70 kids and assorted parents and coaches. The field, track and bleachers were littered with garbage, water bottles, and assorted items that I'm sure were left behind. This wasn't even about recycling or picking up somebody else's garbage or other environmental Earth Day type issues, it was about cleaning up after yourself. It's even worse when the parents and coaches aren't teaching their kids to clean up, but on Earth Day it was really triple annoying.
Perhaps my "green" sensitivity has been heightened because I am reading Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. I'm not sure why I decided to read it, and I'm also not sure why I never got to it before this week (it was published in 1962). I have since discovered that May 27 will be Carson's 100th birthday, and there will be celebrations and events in her honor. Sadly, she died of breast cancer about 18 months after the book was published, at the age of 56.

One of my reasons for choosing a vegetarian lifestyle is because it does reduce exposure to toxins from insectisides and pesticides (which become more concentrated as you move up the food chain). I also belong to an organic food coop for the same reason. Reading Silent Spring has made me realize that the issue is much bigger than that, all these chemicals are in the groundwater and the soil. Basically you can run but you cannot hide. I don't want to get on a soapbox here-- not my style. It's more a personal decision about taking care of myself and my family. I guess you could say that my decision to be a vegetarian is rather selfish! But this last week I've just found myself thinking about how fragile the planet is, and how I wish everyone would be a little bit more responsible about taking care of Earth.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Big Decision

If any of you have kids in college, you know how it works. By April 1, all the accept/reject letters have arrived. You then have until May 1 to make a decision and put down a deposit to secure a place in the freshman class of your choice. If any of you have high school seniors, then you alos know that this has been one of the most competitive years ever. The number of applications to colleges was about a gazillion, with more kids going to college and more applications per kid. To make a long story short, son #1 was not accepted at any of his top 4 choices. It came down to Binghamton University and the Honors program at the University of Delaware. The pros/cons:
Binghamton is one of the best public universities in the country and in-state tuition is dirt cheap ($6,000), but Binghamton is not one of the most exciting places to be. UDel has better facilities and access to Baltimore and Philadelphia. The out-of-state tuition is very reasonable ($18,000) and the honors program probably enhances the academics to make it equivalent to that at Binghamton. Last weekend DH took him to Binghamton and this weekend I took him to Delaware. I'm sure it helped that it was an absolutely beautiful day, but after meeting with current Honors students and hearing about the Study Abroad program, he decided he wants to be at Delaware for the next 4 years. And so there it is, probably one of the biggest decisions he will face in his life, and he has made it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gonna Get It Back

Failure is not an option. I am going to get my "aerobic base" back and then I'm going to keep moving forward. With or without running. Yesterday I ran 1.5 miles and today my knee is tired but its definitely better than it had been. I know I have to live with the reality of 51 year old knees, which means I may not be able to run more than 10 miles a week (actually 10 miles a week would be fabulous) and I will not be able to take shortcuts. I have to do the stretching, the ice, even some ibuprofen on occasion. But I still have my bike, my beautiful shiny new Dolce and hundreds of miles to ride. I am hopeful that all this horrible weather is fading away and spring is going to erupt this weekend! So that's the plan. Get back to working out on a regular basis, run a few miles, and ride, ride, ride!

When I was on the treadmill yesterday, plugged into my new nano, it really felt awesome. It felt much easier than the mile I ran a few days ago. After the first half, I just found myself in that place where runners often find themselves, and it just felt good! Too bad I had to quit at 1.5 miles.

My SIL (the one with 2 broken wrists) is functioning well enough in her "activities of daily living" to be left alone, so my mom is returning to Florida today. I know she is anxious to get home. She was the perfect companion and helper over the past 3 weeks. Kudos to my mom.

Monday, April 16, 2007

One Painfree Mile, the Nor'easter, Killer Pillows, and MIL Update

On Saturday, I ran one mile on the treadmill. One painfree mile. I will probably bump that up to 1.5 tomorrow, but I am not to go any higher than that until I see the PT for my last visit on Wednesday. That is the good news. The bad news is running 1 mile was hard! I have lost a good chunk of my aerobic base. I'm hoping it will be easy to get it back once I get back in the groove.

We planned on spending Sunday indoors, and that is what we did. It rained steadily all day, but the high winds never seemed to be a problem and although it rained hard, it never had the intensity of a summer thunderboomer. It just rained and rained and rained......... Our house is on top of a little hill, and we never have water issues, so we don't pay much attention to the flood warnings, etc. At a little before 6 am this morning, the phone rang and it was a recording from the school district that the schools are closed today. When I drove past the middle school on my way to the train station, I understood why they made that decision. The water was up to the front door.

Is my pillow killing me? I have woken up with a headache for the last few days. I'm not a headachey person, so this was a little unusual. On Friday, I couldn't get rid of it either, despite 2 Tylenols and 2 Advils. Last night I woke up during the night and felt the headache as soon as I turned my head to look at the clock. I sleep with 2 pillows, and I decided to throw the top one off the bed. When I woke up a few hours later, the headache was gone.

My MIL is not doing well. She has lung cancer and has had 3 weeks of chemotherapy. She became so weak and debilitated that she couldn't really get out of bed. My SIL (not the one with 2 broken wrists) got her to the doctor and she was so dehydrated that they put her on an IV for 2 days. She rebounded a bit but it's not clear if the cancer or the chemo is killing her. I wouldn't be surprised if she decided to quit treatment. In the meantime, it is time to start thinking about home care, etc. DH will probably make a trip to Florida next week to help sort out some of these issues.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wednesday Miscellany

My family usually celebrates Passover at my brother and sister-in-laws home, but since my SIL broke both wrists, that was not an option. Instead, we gathered at a kosher-style deli/restaurant, which offered a traditional Passover dinner in addition to the typical gigantic menu of all things Jewish (and beyond). My brother, SIL and mom did not join us, but a fine time was had by all and the food was decent. It was a boisterous family gathering that I am glad we pulled off. I am glad we made the effort and didn't just retreat into our own homes.

My SIL, meanwhile, is feeling better physically but overall she is miserable. The swelling in her fingers has subsided so they no longer look like sausages poking out of the casts, and she is able to sleep a bit better but she is totally dependent upon other people for everything except changing the channel. My mom is going to stay up north for as long as she is needed.

The bike season is upon us! I rode 26 fairly flat miles on Sunday. It was a club ride but it was only 41 degrees when we started, so only 1 other person showed. Still, we rode and it felt great. I'm getting to know my new bike, and I was really comfortable on her. I'm confident that I will still feel that way when I ride up and down some hills. D4w (designed for women) totally rocks!

I have decided to resurrect "Gotta Step it Up (GSIU)." I didn't stick with that idea for very long, especially since my PT brought a good piece of my fitness effort to a halt, and that seemed to boomerang into bad food habits as well. But PT is coming to an end (2 more sessions), I am starting to step up the cardio, and working on the food habits as well. So this week I am concentrating on "no white food." So far, I am doing quite well. This morning I had a baked stuffed potato topped with guacamole for breakfast. Yes it was a white potato, but that was a better choice than Honey Nut Cheerios. Even last night at dinner, I made good choices.

I took the day off yesterday, and one of my accomplishments was taking son#2 for his learner's permit. What a hassle! First, didn't realize I needed his social security card, so we had to go home to get that, then his birth certificate was not a certified copy, so I had to go home again to get his passport. Then credit card transactions went down, so I had to find an ATM to get the cash, and finally the clerk hit a "random check for supervisor," so we had to wait for a supervisor to come and check all the documents again to make sure the clerk had entered all the info properly. We were exhausted and starving by the time we got done! but done it is and now my husband can have the joy for taking him for his first lesson driving around a big parking lot.