Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Happy Philospher

By all meansmarry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher. -Socrates

Where does a couple who meets training for a marathon and who bonds so much doing Spartans together go to honeymoon? Greece of course. I've been thinking about Socrates quote as a guy who blogs philosophically on occasion and wondering if I'll blog less now that I'm married as well almost a full month into it, I am happily married. That will play over time and perhaps that quote says more about Socrates or his wife than it does about marriage but this blog is less about philosophy but it says it's how I hope and hope with life changes and marriage is by far the biggest hoping and coping life change I've chosen in the last several years. 

I can't say that this blog will be gigantically revealing but it's always been my intention to write here what I intend to read when my time comes and how could I not try to remember some things about my honeymoon (which by the way in my odd life was covered by Runner's World; we didn't even have a videographer but they decided to compensate for us). What did I learn or have reaffirmed on our honeymoon? We travel well together. It was a trip where we spent every waking moment and most sleeping ones together (I sleep less than most people including her) and we bonded well over food and drink and adventures. We take the roads less traveled where we're trying to find the paths of the locals and sometimes the things that are big to everyone else match (we loved the Acropolis) but we climbed up to it and around it in places where everyone was and others were we were the only ones. We watched sunsets and while we both have self consciousness about healthiness we managed to make sure to get alcohol and dessert in every single day. I definitely lost some weight for the wedding and got well on my way to finding it. We take history in stride and I thought of Greece that I know from the days of the ancient gods that we still have named so many things after but now has a Christian Cross on its flag and entire version of it called the Greek Orthodox Church. I took Greek in college and it turned out a fair bit of it is still in this brain with a hole and a scar. Elaine was impressed. Our first run on the honeymoon was on the original marathon course and of course we stopped to take a picture at kilometer 8. We ran it side by side and a friend from Greece was a little behind us. 

Out favorite place was in the middle, Meteora. It was a place where we were staying was away from most of the tourists and where we got more of Greek culture, at least country culture than anyone else. We found trails there that we were literally the only ones. We had formal hiking tours and an outdoor climbing one but there were ones where it was just us. There were places where I would have hiked and climbed on my own literally risking life and limb but my wife was nearby and somehow, the brain cancer patient whose never been too worried about death in any form since it comes to us all, passed those up so that she didn't have to watch and so I could live a little longer by her side. There were monasteries and we tried to go to two, each on a separate day but on the first one, they wouldn't let me in due to shorts that were too short (they didn't cover my knee caps) that was a nunnery and I couldn't help but be amused and joke that yeah these knees would have made them rethink those chastity vows. The wine later that night with Elaine made me glad she hadn't taken them (hey if that offends you, well, you might want to get educated on part of what honeymoons are about). On both the first and the second one we were shocked that there were nearby trails with gorgeous views of both the mountains and the monasteries themselves that literally no one was on. Standing up there or in Athens made it fairly easy to imagine to me how they would feel that God or the gods lived up there and they'd want to be close... Standing in line didn't match up but Elaine and I matched up in how we shared it, perceived it, hiked it and well... let me be clear no Greek Goddess has anything on my wife. 

We continued to Santorini where tourism was thick in a town that has 15 thousand people but 1.5 million visitors. We found off the beaten path trails and hikes where again we were the only ones or one of very few. On the areas where its crowded and everyone wants to catch what is a gorgeous scenery tour, it amuses me how people will post to look philosophical against the white buildings or the ocean and then they'll go back to looking on their phone for more time than they look at that to get the right filter or they'll get their company or stranger to take it again from this angle. Life, life is full of us projecting how we want to be perceived but social media in beautiful places has made that easier I suppose. I quipped about it on social media and we even posed trying to mock the idea but like a lot of my sarcastic jokes it was funny more to me than anyone else but Elaine laughed and if the people you love get you, I'll take that over anything. We had ridiculously good meals and wine there too. One of both of our favorite moments was that on a 10k walk at sunset there was a local guy who was sitting there with a girl and just as the sunset was about perfect he kneeled and proposed. She looked shocked and out of pure instinct I caught what was one of the top 5 pictures of my trip. After a few minutes, I walked up showed him the picture, got his email address and then walked away. Obviously the guy hadn't felt the need for an audience or a capture but he ended up appreciating it and send me a very thank you email. That picture will not be one I ever share anywhere because it's their moment but it was a picture in contrast from the 4 couples we had seen getting married in town. I wish them all well but somehow if I had to pick he's who I'd cheer for the loudest as the engagement cycle was starting just as our honeymoon was wrapping up. It's the circle of life and it moves us all. Marriage ultimately succeeds or fail in the private moments and I loved the way he started his. 

We reconnected on this trip realizing that we were on pace with each other on walks and runs (she walks faster than I do, I run faster but every once in a while we do it side by side). We realized we're both more mountain people than beach people but could enjoy either. Her taste in food is great even if she doesn't like sweets as much as I do and her taste in wine is improving. Her taste in this man is questionable but too late too change easily and I trust she won't. But you know what, I said to the groomsmen before the wedding was some memories with them from winning a tournament to a trip that I'd gone with one of them to qualifying for Boston while they cheered, at many moments in my life, I thought this is going to be the coolest moment of my life. I was wrong, those have all been surpassed. The wedding was the coolest party of my life... so far. And this honeymoon has been the best trip and private party of my life... so far. But on both, I choose to believe and believe to choose that both are still going to get better. The best days are still coming. We bought absolutely nothing back of permanence, no permanent souvenirs  we had each other. 

One of the conversations we talked about was about how I thought marriage wasn't in my future; that's well known. What's less well known is Elaine also for some reason thought she'd never marry. A couple of the wedding guests who came were glad to see her abandon that train of thought because they said marriage was the highest expression of love. It's the right idea but I think the highest expression of love is the fulfillment not the keeping of the vows. That played through my head I ran the last morning at 4 am there and the moon had just a tiny sliver of night against a black sky with lots of stars. I'd point the moon out to my honey as we were headed to the airport thinking about Plato's old remark: We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light. The grey matter in my brain was a huge reason why I was afraid of the dark and I still have no idea how it will go but the happiness that comes from being married is a huge light in my life and in Greece I was reminded that I'm no longer living by fear. And the way I'm enjoying that light is nowhere near platonic ;).

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Morning Papers

If he poured his heart into a glass And offered it like wine
She could drink and be back in time for the morning papers
They could take a walk down the ocean side Make a wish on every wave
They could find a carousel And ride or kiss in every cave
They could contemplate the entire universe
Or just one star
Or just how far was the walk for the morning papers

There was a pre-wedding playlist that until the wedding day I didn't share with anyone and the entirety of it will never be shared with anyone other than the person I married later that day. But the songs varied from songs that were meaningful in our story, songs that were meaningful in my story. They were mostly romantic songs but not entirely as some were fun like The Final Countdown. The song In Late August showed how much I feared the weather our wedding might have too much heat in the wrong direction (it ended up being reasonable so we saved some of the heat for after we ran out of there and got to the hotel room). There was even a couple of hymns in there. I'm not a guy who prays much in the actual meaning of the word which is to request something but there were a couple of hymns in there because if nothing else I want to express thanks because I'm not quite sure how so many blessings flow my way. 

But the very last song added was one that I had no personal connection and came on just shuffle, it's the one quoted as I start these thoughts, Prince's The Morning Papers. Like too many romantic songs around wedding time it made me sappy but reflective. I was marrying a girl who was romantic but practical. Our wedding registry we wondered who would if anyone buy us certain gifts because well they were and I quote 'boring' but even the elaborate start line from the wedding wasn't kept (it was recycled for a classroom) because we're practical people. This is the girl who I've been to multiple countries with and tomorrow we head to Greece (because if you meet a girl training for a marathon and propose at a Spartan and neither of you has ever there, where else would you go for a honeymoon... and while we're on train of thought another song on the playlist was honey and the moon). But despite being to all those countries, we don't have much physical stuff to show for it, mostly a heart and a faulty brain full of memories. We've had philosophical conversations and practical obnoxious ones, big picture and little details.

But less than a handful of people had the courage to bring up to me how the brain cancer diagnosis relates to us in all this. Well, anyone who thinks we didn't have a conversation about it is naive at best but we're not. Before we were ever boyfriend and girlfriend, I heard her talk about someone in her family with health problems and recognized a maturity about it. She heard me talk about mine in a public speech at Livestrong in which the theme was 'my first time' and I talked about how bad my first kiss went but that while the second one wasn't much better, I was more teachable. I tried to share some ideas about how sometimes life, things like cancer gives you second chances at life and that can be more valuable if you're more teachable. But I ended with a joke that the real reason I was here was if they knew any girls who were into guys that were bad kissers to give them my number. Not long after that, she asked me out... I'm just saying. 

But we've talked about it. I updated my will to include her in it (Kiana's still the primary beneficiary instead of the sole one but there's no way I'm marrying someone and not sharing somethings in both life and death). But she also got fully informed of things like that I have a do not resuscitate clause, how I have a clause that I won't be seeking any more treatment again and that those who have power of attorney, which now includes her, can't over ride those. If the time comes to die, it comes. A friend in the legal profession has and is encouraging me to change those now that I'm married but my wife knows that's not going to be the story and at least conceptually she agreed with it or else well... I wouldn't have asked her to be my wife. It's that concept why we can talk about the breadth of the universe or how far the walk is to the morning papers.

The fact that I liked that song may have demonstrated my age but oddly enough a little over a week after the wedding, a picture and an article came out in the local paper. I've come out in many papers for race wins etc but this is one of my biggest wins and it was the biggest picture there's ever been with me picking up a really hot girl in a wedding dress (take hot whichever way you want but I gotta tell you if hang out with me and we'll have an awesome where I'll literally pick you up... if that's not a good pick up line, I don't know what is). The article was by someone whose written about me more than once on the day she took the buyout from the Statesman. By that change it became that without exception all of the reporters who I've stayed in regular contact with from the Beaumont win are no longer at their jobs; change continues to be life's constant. 

Why is age more than a number when it comes to love?
Should we ask the ones who speculate
When they don't know what it's made of?
Should we ask the moonlight on your face
Or the raindrops in your hair
Or should we ask the man who wrote it there in the morning papers?

Many people, mostly older but a few closer to my age and one close to Elaine's age reached out to me to let me know they'd seen it or they sent me screen captures etc. There was actually a preview of it on the front page, that huge picture on the front of the lifestyle section and the article finished on the very back of the paper. It seemed fitting that marriage would be from front to back with a huge section on lifestyle. But if anyone else noticed it, they didn't mention that on that same front page, there was talk of Sen McCain's death. When he passed, a few people asked me about it. The truth is that like any public figure, I could only gleam from what was reported about him but I admired him way back when and till his death and no matter what he passed away from I think it would have been a loss to our government. But he died from a higher grade of the same cancer I have... For something that's supposed to be so rare, 7 per 100K people, I don't quite know how to grasp that we've had 2 Senators in a body of 100 pass from it in less than a decade... I've met many people in the events that I am a part of the cause so that seems a little more 'logical' but there are other random things. Another ARC board member got it in the 4 years I've been there as President, my old boss's child got it and passed away from it since I've gotten it. The privilege of survivorship is never lost on me. It's one of the reasons there is a Livestrong bracelet on me and reminders of hope are visible in almost all areas of the house. 

I don't know why I'm still alive. I made no mention of my cancer in the wedding ceremony but I said to the groomsman as I thanked them for the many positive and negative things that they'd been there for in over a decade that I was shocked to be here not just getting married but alive. But my fiancee, now wife, knew the importance of it because we revolved that honeymoon around getting back to the Brainpower 5k, the only race that I've done every year of its existence. It's its 8th year and assuming all international travel goes well, I'll be getting in really late the night before to run it on next to no sleep. She's actually never missed it since she started doing it and on her first one at a party afterwards is my first memory of her, when I threw her in a pool. The Scarecrows will be out there again so if you want to donate or join... here's the place. It's not too late and if you want I can make sure you get thrown in a pool though it's too late for it to turn into marriage, at least to me or Elaine anyway. Brain cancer and good times don't have to be mutually exclusive.

But speaking of pool, several people have noticed, I've lost weight. Since this blog is full of inadequate confessions, I wasn't on a diet but I did step up my running and eat less quantities as my birthday and wedding were coming up so that I could look good in my wedding and birthday suit. We didn't go our honeymoon right away which frankly getting thank you cards and clean up done may be more fun than immediately traveling and coming back to all that but the main reason was to get Kiana situated right as she started Jr. High. We also purposely revolved it so that due to the new custody schedule I only have to miss two days while I'm gone for 10. The only thing that I'll think about or miss is something that I didn't know the schedule until she joined less than 48 hours ago which Kiana's first cross country meet but Ms. Independent will be fine for that and you better believe I'll make the rest. We had mariachi at the wedding but we changed while they were on and left before they were done so we went and caught some at a hillside theater last weekend but before that we went swimming in cold Barton Springs cause this Texas heat is not relenting (Greece is going to be so tough to bear the cooler temperature, just kidding. We were swimming there and I wondered what the water would be like in Santorini and remembering that the ancient Olympics were done in the nude but then again that's probably not the way I want to be in any papers even if Europeans are more liberal). But as I sat there and swam with my wife and my daughter and thought about Senator McCain and our return to the Brainpower 5k, all I could do to cope and hope with the privilege and guilt of still being alive was remember the joke I usually close speeches with “I still have brain cancer which has a 10 year survival rate of 12% so statistically speaking I’m not supposed to make 40. But when I think of that I remember what an old college profesor used to say ‘statistics are like bikinis: what they reveal is interesting but what they conceal is vital.’ But I’m going to keep running hoping to defy statistics plus I want to look good in a bikini."

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Perfect Imperfections

In describing my fears of what has gone on in my brain, I always note that what is at risk and at some level damaged in me are my memory and language skills. But 8 days into being married, I have to tell you that if they were perfect they couldn't have captured the happiest day my life has seen, so far, which is my wedding day 8/18/18. This entry will be like looking at the night sky where you see beauty and try to create patterns in a massive spacious place that is so far beyond what I'll ever understand.

Where to start? I suppose I'll start with a story I always turn dad mode on when some romantic or pop song comes on the radio about how someone is perfect and I'm like 'Kiana don't believe that, no one is perfect and that's okay. There's some balance of acceptance and striving to improve but if acceptance makes you lazy the former is less important'. She rolls her eyes so loud I can hear them from the backseat and goes "yes, dad." However, not long before the wedding, John Legend's All of Me came on and I was belting out:

"'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you"

Kiana is like wait, why do you like that song, it has perfect in it. As un-eloquently as I could, I tried to say that was the balance and somehow communicated it to where Kiana said it made sense. That's the best I could hope for in remembering our wedding day. 

We had events for several days before with family, international friends, any friend who wanted to show up, rehearsal dinners. Without exception, someone made fun of me at it and at some level jokes aimed at Elaine seemed directed at me. There were 8 events just like there would be 8 cases of ice cream, Mexican coke, wine, beer. Anyway, I'd cover them all but I'm sure it's no surprise that for the couple being married on 8/18/18 there were 18 8 things. Someone asked if there were things they had missed and of course there was, that was the point and there were things I couldn't catch with so much of my friends and family there in the room. There were people there who had been there since Kiana's birth, since Elaine's birth, and way back when at my birth and at all points in between. If you want an outsider's perspective, this blogger and his wife got blogged about by the only reporter invited because we've become friends. And if you believe the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, here's 195k better words than what I'll write.  

But if you'll let me write down a few, I was more emotional that day than I can recall. I ran with no watch on with the group I had met Elaine through. Some of the run was with her, partly with her brother, partly with guests. I don't know the distance since I went back and forth some but it was all on easy pace but when I got to half a mile to go, I ran on my own and bolted till the finish. My last closing solo run was going to be with conviction as a single man. I went from there to get the fro removed because well it was a fun gag but I wanted her to say I do. And in a day where everyone was getting ready to grow up a little more, I took Kiana to her 6th grade orientation which no surprise to anyone she wanted to go to see her schedule step by step for each of the 3 variations that it comes in which included what felt like stair repeats in her 3 story school. 

I had a thousand jokes to tell the groomsman and the officiant and my family and friends and guests during, before or after the wedding but not one came out smoothly, some didn't come out at all. From the shot of tequila with the guys to the prayer with my pastor, tears, usually one at a time came flowing. Still, the smiles and preparedness solidified when Kiana tied my bowtie. 

I could tell you some of the things that went wrong in preparation like that the original caterer wasn't the final one or that the original band ended up being replaced by 4 different musicians but a good show you don't notice the lights and sounds, you notice the focus and if we got it right, the people who were present had the focus on faith, hope and love and the greatest of those was love. Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, the officiant, Elaine's coach and the guy I run with the most, delivered pun after pun, joke after joke but poignant ones but he pointed out both of our stubbornness and captured the fact that our best days and our worst days have been when they are aimed in the right direction. We had written our own vows and never having heard each other's before was a good least for Elaine cause she upstaged me. 

We skipped a lot of proper 'ceremonial' stuff. No one except the flower girl, the bride and the ring bearer walked down the less than 20 yard aisle and all songs being played before and during the ceremony were actually meaningful ones to us from movies or musicals, for me one hymn. Still, when did I become one of those people that's all about their animal? Was it when I brought her from the south pacific? Was it when I bought a house partly based on that it had a doggy door? Well, whenever it was, it was solidified when my 14.5 year old friend was the ring bearer and I traded out her one ring per treat.  There was an exchange of rings but no with this ring I thee wed (there were no thees or thous for that matter). 

We had plans after the ceremony that went askew but I'm not sure anyone including us noticed. We had skipped the dad walking down the aisle part, disregarding the idea the tradition that someone was giving away the bride as well she'd made that decision on her own. We did take everyone on a walk though across a mile of beautiful terrain that would have felt surprisingly reasonable in a suit, in a day that had reached 102, much less both of them.  The traditional dances of daddy/daughter, mom/son gave way to entire family dances. While we may have ignored the traditional role of parents, parents still got to give speeches and if anyone thinks I wasn't nervous during that time, I want to point out I was chugging straight from the bottle of a wine that I gave Elaine that she's the only I'll ever share with, the Hess Collection Lion Tamer. Both the officiant and Elaine's dad were incredibly gracious in pointing out how important Kiana was to us. 

There were  board games, puzzles and Kiana-hand-painted lawn games, dancing and DJ's. We'd billed it as a party that happened to include a wedding and I hope it lived up to the hype. One hour after it was over feels the same as 8 days out, it was a blur but a blast. The groomsmen had made me take off my watch which I'm a little bitter about because all those steps and dancing I don't get credit for. But maybe that means the donuts and Mexican ice cream or rum with Mexican coke that I had also don't count? 5 of the 7 continents were represented, several language, a few more countries and plenty of states. Somehow life has been kind enough to realize friends had showed us where people did show up from north, south, east and west.

We got married under a start line with a skyline of Austin. There was a moon and each of our constellations on pretty much everything, perhaps showing what I dare our marriage grows into until life's final finish line, something well grounded and always reaching so far beyond what we can imagine. 

The fine dance of being a host to all your friends and family got us to conscientiously spend tome of the time apart and together physically but we kept checking in, some times with a dance, sometimes with a look, sometimes with a kiss, and each time with a smile. When we did get around to doing the first official dance it was actually to a song from the Greatest Showman, Tightrope. I was nervous and people thought some of the things that happened organically were practiced like when we touched each other's nose but they hadn't which somehow made it more special to both the audience and us. 

Mountains and valleys, and all that will come in between
Desert and ocean
You pulled me in and together we're lost in a dream
Always in motion
So I risk it all just to be with you
And I risk it all for this life we choose
There are many blog entries here about this hopeful romantic that this day would never come. Well, life is unpredictable but this was the best thing I would have bet against (in fact I did and I paid the $100 a couple of days ago). But for those few minutes that dance lasted would have been worth that and all the risks that come and will come with it are too. 
But I promise you this, while that day, it was the happiest day of my life, I'll work hard at making sure that doesn't stay true. I proposed before a start line on purpose. We got married under a start line for a reason. Unsurprisingly when we changed and got out of there through a tunnel, we ran through friends and family that were cheering us on but like I intend and promised that day, I'm running with her. Yesterday, on a hot humid summer day, we did our first run of married life of 20 miles together.
No we aren't going to do every single thing together but we're in for the long haul and anytime we're running to the next place or next adventure, we'll be running off holding hands. The song says walking the tightrope but I think we'll be running it. The engagement, the dating, the wedding, this writing about it all, nothing we've ever done together has gone perfect. And yet through all those imperfections it all there is one thing I couldn't improve on, I made a perfect choice in who I said I do to. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Night Before the Night Before

I never sleep well before significant races so it's no surprise that I'm not sleeping well before the start of the run of a lifetime, how I refer to as my wedding. I try to make adequate sleep to the night before the night before but that wasn't great either cause I'm nervous, excited there are friends in town.  It's funny how Elaine, the girl I'm marrying tomorrow (later today really) said long before we ever went on a date how it seems so much of my life is scripted. I mean how do you put explain that the guy who put off brain surgery to run a marathon would go on to win one, 1 second slower a couple of years later?

And now in less than 24 hours, I'll be married. It's still shocking to me even though it's pleasantly around the corner. There's been good jokes of how I finally settled down but a hesitation was/is I didn't think I'd still be around right now. I've got fucking brain cancer people and median survival rate is 7 years for people with surgery but I'm here, alive and kicking. But if I'm living the scripted life, it's a good writer (better than the one from this blog). Because life is kind enough to where there will be people from every stage of my life, including the ones from Stage 2 Cancer. There will be people there from childhood and high school and college and running. But there will also be the guy who I met at the first Brain Power 5k who had to relearn to walk and talk. There will be people there who were part of my first Livestrong Challenge, the one that I learned to ride a bike for who when I wasn't quite sure that I wanted to embrace part of this cancer identity too strongly reached out from across a tent. A criterion for local invites was people who we'd been to each other's house in the last year but there are several out of town, out of state, out of country people who do or all but do meet that criterion, 3 of them cancer connections. It is perhaps no coincidence that the two friends from high school who were invited are the ones who showed up in Austin and Duke where I had brain surgery within days of it and they will both be there (I've visited them both in their out of state homes since too). The ultimate and college friends from California, Chicago, who when I wasn't allowed to drive still hosted me and taxied me around will be there. The relatives who were part of the meals as I did my goodbye tour where I said to people 'I'm not sure the guy going in is the same one that goes out but this one loves you guys." The chief organizers of events, Todd, Chris, Rachel and Dave that helped with the medical bills will be there. Troy, the guy who stopped me from leaving the hospital when I first found out I had a tumor will be the best man. The guy who helped me sneak off a hospital after a run will be there. The 4 people who gave me the most rides to and from runs will be there. The church that helped me thank God from whom all blessings flow will be there.  Even the wedding coordinator came from a cancer connection! I could go on and on but the truth is I loved these guys several years ago, some decades ago and I can't think as I enter into this event that surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, I'm going to run this race not only for the price but committed to a faithfulness of life and love.

But of course, if a story has a good script, I've longed called the cancer journey, life part II. And tomorrow the leading lady arrives in her permanent position. How else could I have met her but training but for a marathon? Of course, when we were both doing Boston and were just friends, I end up sitting next to her and people would make jokes about how someday we'd end up together. Of course long before a first date, people confused our friendship for dating and even marriage. Of course, she talked me into doing my first trail race and night race by having the audacity to suggest it as a way to celebrate her birthday. What else could it be that she didn't hesitate to sign up for a spartan and unable to do a pull up back then or even a year or two later she beat me at our most recent one? In response to frustrations about custodial issues and insurance in a moment of desperation, I asked why do you want a guy with so much baggage; it wasn't what I meant but I've never appreciated a response to a misunderstanding when she said, "Kiana's not baggage?"  Where else would I propose but at the start of a race that we'd do side by side and it was a fair question of whether or not I'd keep up? Where else we would honeymoon except Greece, home of the marathon and Spartans and somewhere neither of us has ever been? Can this script get any more obvious than that the guy who said neither marriage nor an ultra were in his future is now doing them both in a short period with this girl? Of course, the guy is going to end up with the smart girl and spend the next several decades wondering what he's thought for a few years, where his first thought is she the one still sleeping or am I the one dreaming, perhaps still on that surgery table, reaching for creative and positivity in the most surreal longest imaginable matrix like dream? I mean come on the guy doing the ceremony is the guy I've ran with the most who also happens to be her coach.

On a few hours of sleep, I've ran my fastest and best races many times. My last speech before the wedding, as a single man, was at a Catholic University. I may have let them in on more details of the wedding at the speech than I should have cause college kids can keep a secret right? Call it my confession. There has been oohs and ahhs and laughter about various parts of the story but especially about the part that hadn't come true. But when it came down to the Q&A, the biggest guy in the room started the question with, hey can you find someway to send us pictures from the wedding. I don't know what the photographer will catch but I promise you I won't be posing. But the truth is the night before the race isn't tonight, the race starts on Sunday with married life. We don't leave on our honeymoon till the 30th so I imagine it will just be a recovery day but it will also be one of those days where the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step or two. But while I may be doing the formal ceremony in a few hours, for many steps and unknown number of infinite miles, for better or worse, richer or poor, in sick or health, I will be saying I do.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Throwing Away My Shot (glasses)

As my wedding date is getting closer (by wedding date I mean 8/18/18, who I'm going way with was settled way back), it's a good time to take inventory of my life. There's a few jokes that are easy as my cancer and divorced and jokes about not ever getting into a serious commitment are fairly public. If you think weddings are expensive, the icing on the donuts is that I have to pay an additional $100 from losing my George Clooney bet. The jokes are fairly fun from good friends: 'no one will ever figure out why she's marrying you but why her, is it that she has the fastest marathon time? Is is that she a solid job?' Like all good jokes, there's some truth that make them a little funnier. Her fastest marathon (yet) came after we sat on a bus next to each other for Boston and I kid you not a few days ago after we finally joined financial accounts she got a raise (sugar mama) but that's not why I'm marrying her.

I'm marrying her because I'm less uncomfortable at every level with Elaine. It would be a blatant lie to say I'm perfectly comfortable around her because well I'm not even perfectly comfortable being myself by myself but somewhere in the primal and the intellectual, I think she gets my better and worse side. It seems that every even semi romantic song gets me thinking about the wedding and married life together, still dreaming about a 50th anniversary where I'll be 88 and she'll be 77 (the age gap will be a smaller deal then right?). If I started telling you about all of them, it would become a falsehood that I'm somehow suddenly not emotional reticent but there are two that literally were the subjects of previous blog posts that I've been listening to and realize that she's become the substance of things hoped for. In one of those posts, I said I had no one who would compare to this,

So run till you cannot take a single step in strength
Then crawl on your hands and knees, till your hands and knees they ache
And when you cannot crawl

It will be me you call to carry you back home again.

I wrote about that about a year after meeting her, about a year before asking her on a date and about 2 years before proposing while still saying I'd never marry. Well, I've also said forever that I'd never do an ultra and well, neither is done yet but I think come August 19th, I'll be her husband and almost exactly a year after I propose we are signed up for our first Ultra, a Spartan Ultra where we will be on our hands and knees crawling but next to each other and then heading home, together. The main premise of that song is its title, Done Living, the question isn't are you going to die, you're going to die but will you be done living when you do? I'm still going to die, and I don't know when or how even if it's with or from this cancer but somehow, I think those wedding vows are a new start line.

Still, that song isn't the one I've listened to the most from old days. It's one given reference to in this post, the song Arms of a Woman. I have a playlist set up that I'll be listening to on wedding day which has a variety of songs from cheesy to hymns to romantic to humorous but this song I played it for Elaine recently across a table and I started crying, not sobbing, just a few tears going down my cheek because of the lyrics:

Now most days I spend like a child
Who's afraid of ghosts in my mind
I know there ain't nothing out there
But I'm still afraid to turn on the light

I am at ease in the arms of a woman
When she wakes me, she takes me back home

While it is not the order that I recommend or hope that my daughter takes (that whole moving in first), the truth is we've in some ways minor and some ways major redone something in every section of the house since she did so a little over a year ago and nowhere that I've lived in the entirety of my adult life has a place felt so much like home. I would roll my eyes at anyone talking about someone else being their home and I'm certainly not going to say it about Elaine but we've made it a joint home, a family one and I'm surprisingly at ease.

There are many songs that are part of the while people are sitting around part of the wedding that they'll not catch (that's okay, they're supposed to be socializing) but many are nods to musicals (including the one in the title here). This amuses me as when I was first hearing about musicals I thought what an absolutely ridiculous form of entertainment, that people would just walk around and burst into song about what's going on in their lives or minds or hearts. There are several musicals that are being nodded to in the wedding time because as I've gotten a lot older and only a little wiser, maybe just maybe bursting out into song to express yourself doesn't seem like the worst idea. We're even inviting everyone to go see a musical a couple of nights before the wedding at a park, something we did with each other and her parents back when we were friends.

This is a world I've seen 4 World Wonders with and a 5th is on the calendar but part of the reason we work is we live for experiences for things. My first international trip I saw that all of us tourists seemed to be in gift shops picking up one if not several items. The ones that seemed to be everywhere were shotglasses, postcards, magnets and spoons. Like finishers medals or completion ribbons, I've dutifully picked one up from all the places and countries I've been to. When Elaine moved in, I put away all the ones that weren't from joint trips with her or Kiana. However, as wedding gifts have started to come in and my anti materialistic kick comes in, it seems with each gift I clear out a shelf. Almost two decades worth of shot glasses were gotten rid of (someone working on my house accidentally broke one and was very apologetic) but I realized as I looked at the shelf, mostly it reminded me shopping for them not being at those places and plus the place wasn't mine, it was ours so they went to goodwill. The shelves were replaced with a nod to Mexican culture and another to Chinese, far less space and yet far more elegant. I've cleared out clothes and shoes and camping gear and... and... perhaps there are those who think you make more room but it's been a head, heart and space clearing process and the vast majority will create growing space for Elaine and Kiana and faith, hope and love.

We're still having fun with the wedding process. I'm still growing out my hair for the wedding weekend which when Kiana heard me refer to it as a fro, she researched it and I went skating for the first time since high school and her first time ever, all dressed appropriately in 70's clothes. Elaine fairly called out that I theoretically don't hold onto things but somehow I had 3 different 70's outfits available without shopping for a thing (I have one full costume drawer).

There are many of the traditions that we're not going to be the fiddler on the roof and just keep them for tradition sake (there's no cake or giving away of the bride). The ways we incorporate our families is a little different, a little the same. Appreciate the fact that diversity is a good thing, there are nods to our backgrounds (Chinese and Mexican food will be served). In those senses, we've embraced the 'it's your day, don't worry about anyone else' advice I'm annoyed at receiving so much (if it's my day, why am I inviting anyone else? We're hosts and we want this to be a good party where people eat and drink while we get married?!?). But in other ways, it's just a beginning, a first I love you and unlike the first time I said where I was hugging her from behind and didn't quite have the courage to look at her in the eye as I said, I'll be saying it in front of a few dozen friends and family and committing to do it while I'm living and unlike I've thought for far too long, I trust and hope that I'm just getting started.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Broken and Lost Hope

It takes a cursory look at my house to realize I love symbols, ideas. There's a print of an Escher lithograph I love of hands drawing each other onto the paper, one of my favorite pieces of art ever, reflecting an idea I hold: that in many ways, we create the world that creates us. There are two wdays that represent everywhere I've ever been, shot glasses and a gigantic map on the guest room with spots on it (thought it may tell you something about my appreciation of symbols that when Elaine moved in, the only shot glasses that stayed up there were ones where I had a trip with at least one if not both of them). We have a spot in our kitchen where the latest bib of the race we did goes up until the next one. I've worn a band consistently on my wrist that says Livestrong since I got cancer (though I will point out it also has a little metal piece of emergency contact info so it's also got a practical application).

But while I love Emerson, there's at least one idea of his idea I hope never takes over my life which is that we are symbols and inhabit them. I proposed with a ring made out of the same color and material as the Livestrong band (eventually upgraded to a metal one that also said hope and had one of those diamond stone things). Elaine wore the one I proposed with when we did our next Spartan which was extra muddy. It came off somewhere in the mudpits and she told me at the finish line. She genuinely looked sad. A while back someone gave me a handmade vase that had been a centerpiece of my table for a while quoting Emily Dickinson's poem, "hope is the thing with feathers." Kiana recently broke it while cleaning the table and cried immediately and apologized profusely. In both scenarios, perhaps not sensitively enough or perhaps putting in perspectives, I hugged each of them and said don't worry about it, it's just stuff. The truth is both of those things were special and even if sort of replacable by circumstance, really one of a kind but while I wish they weren't lost or broken, I shrugged it off as I hugged them because I knew, I KNEW that what mattered was neither lost nor broken, the Hope that they symbolized. I'm still engaged to that non typical girl, I'm still raising that special little girl whose hope keeps getting more feathers.

And so I'm a practical guy, never wanting to let the perfect get in the way of the good. We ordered practical plastic wedding bands, Elaine's is a lavender one that has hope on it. Mine is a Spartan Blue One (the color of their Super which is the longest I've ever covered a Spartan with having done the elite on my own and then repeating it again with Elaine, shortly after that was where the idea of proposing at one came up). They will be part of the ceremony but I assure you with this ring I thee wed or anything like that won't be part of the ceremony. I'm marrying her with my conviction, with my heart, with my damaged brain and the ring even though both have a sideways 8 infinity, could not capture that. It is just a nod. There will be several of those at the wedding, some of which all, some of which few, and a couple almost no one will catch and why not, inside jokes are fun once in a while. Kiana will be part of it... Everyone thought I should wear running shoes and I thought that was silly with a suit till we came up with the idea that Kiana could paint on them. We've been practicing and those shoes will be wearing. Speaking of nods that few people will get, she will be using the exact paint of the colors we chose for the accent walls and the front door of our house... and like her first shoes, they will be very meaningful and when they are no longer useful, we'll throw them away. Many people I love and that love me have criticized this approach to life (and look this is just how I choose to live; I'm not preaching to anyone to follow my style) but it turns out that for me if I don't distract myself by the symbols, I can focus on hugging and loving who or what they're supposed to represent. When you have a damaged memory, that sure helps.

We've been watching the World Cup and Mexico got eliminated Monday so I made sure to wear my
jersey Tuesday to show I support them when things are up or down (but seriously guys we're at 6 world cups where we advance to the round of 16 and no further, you're such a tease. I didn't even last with Clooney Tunes that long before I got further). Speaking of, we're working on the wedding. I would love to tell you that there are zero obligational invites on that wedding list but there are very very few. There was even a thousand dollar offer to invite someone who really hasn't talked to me since before I met Elaine. The smartest thing I ever said was you have to work on the relationships you want to keep and why throw the party where you're going to have the most friends and families to say hi to people who pretty much all they ever do is say hi to you. We've told people no about plus ones who weren't married or in a serious relationship or kids because its' a small venue but mostly because we want to hang out with people we know on our wedding. It's a party and while I'm not shy and I've made many strangers into friends at parties, this one I just want to see friends and family and thank them and God that we aren't strangers. When I pointed out we hadn't talked in so long for the $1000 offer (I said no in case that wasn't clear), their retort was that quinceaneras, weddings and funerals are for catching up and then you get back to real life. Maybe that was the way it was once upon a time and in some places still is but if people aren't there when you're down, or aren't there for the daily mundane stuff, I just don't want to feed shallow connections while feeding good food. If that offends any people who made the list, they can skip the wedding and my funeral. I'll be happy but distracted at the first and not even paying at the latter.

We really are trying to focus on this wedding. We realize that some of our best friends we don't have many pictures with and it bothered me very little because we were so into the activity that why break it up. I'm a guy with a damaged memory but I've got wonderful ones with so many of these people and so we aren't going to fix that at the wedding, I hope we're going to continue it. We're drafting an email to guests and I hope people respect a paragraph that someone helped me write (my version might have been a little more blunt):

We don’t have a #hashtag, there’s no videographer, and you’ll get thrown into the fountain with your phone if we catch you doing Facebook Live or making an Instagram Story. We aren’t going to be posing for pictures before or after and the photographers know we only want genuine interactions, so please don’t ask us to pose; we want you take it in through your eyes not a small screen! I’m not sure we’ll ever get another day with so many of our close friends and family in one place so hug us, chat with us, play a game with us, dance with us, have a drink with us, and help us make meaningful memories with our guests. 

The thing about having had cancer for the better part of 8 years and having been to too many funerals and hospices is it really has helped me evaluate life and death better and how other people do it. I certainly am not arrogant enough to think everyone should do it like me and am annoyed at the people who think so much of the correct path through cancer, to death should be universal. I just want to see people and believe you me, I guarantee you our hearts will be filled with good memories from that day but there won't be any traditional posed pictures that get framed in this house from it. 

These blogs are all train of thought so I think I've lost me now so I've probably lost you. But there's a shelf full of mementos from races Elaine and I have done together, there's a medal hanger from joint medals Kiana and I have done together. I am writing on a laptop with thousands of pictures saved. I have a bin full of art Kiana has done, a few picture frames with some great memories. I've been emotional at the singing of the Mexican national anthem from some childhood memories. Medals and race stuff will be part of the wedding. But despite all those symbols, I got to be part of a conversation recently of what you would run in to grab if your house was burning down and I was honestly surprised at some things (no one I think chose anything practical, just symbols/mementos).  I said I wouldn't grab anything, let it burn rather than risk safety for stuff. If Elaine or Kiana or Puppy were in there, there wouldn't be a fireman who could stop me from taking a chance to get them out. But if they were all by my side, I'd give them the same hug as when that ring was left in the mud or that vase crashed into the tile and even if they were plenty sad, I'd hug them and be fully assured that not an ounce of hope was lost or broken. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Back to Where I Was

New life decides to come through the front door
And makes us wish we'd shown respect before
Though I don't have much of a choice
I resolve to regain my voice

If I only just begin to understand it that's because
Everytime I time I start to change my mind again
It gets me back to where I was

I am not good at looking back. It's funny because the reason this entire blog started wasn't for you to read it; it was for me to read it because I met someone who'd had issues in the left temporal lobe and they had a wish absence of almost a year from shortly before their brain issues to not recognizing their wife and child so I thought I'd write down the story, unedited, unfiltered, with typos. If I had to hear this story from someone else, I wanted to hear it from me. While it's nowhere at that level, my memory is damaged and still I've never read this blog at all which makes it a fair question as to why I'm writing it but it's still the same reason. My memory is actually damaged enough to where looking back doesn't flow right, yesterday isn't that much closer than few years ago, some moments both good and bad and insignificant are wholly gone or aren't recalled in correct order.

But long before brain surgery, I wasn't good at looking back. I left Mexico when I was 8 and haven't been ever back to visit the place, only family. I was transported to to a small town in West Texas after coming from Chihuahua (like the dog) to Kermit (like the frog) in a town that had about a thousand people for each of the years I spent in it. I left there shortly after turning 14 and had not returned once in almost 24 years. I'm not sure what prompted it this time around but it was the first time I'd taken my soon to be wife out to Odessa (we'd both been in the area before just independently). Having lived in a big city in Mexico, in a small town in Kermit Texas, on a small town in South Texas, in a small town in Napa Valley, in the city of Los Angeles, London, and in the Marshall Islands before settling in Austin has given me a great perspective in the world. It's helped me understand a range of ideas and I can see why there are good and evil people who both share and disagree with many of my views. But I digress, the main thought I had while being out there was the question of how different I would have been had I stayed there, doing what I thought I would which is work in the oil field like so much of my family including my dad to this day in his 70's? How different would it have been if I'd stayed in Mexico? Which years were the most critical for development and current thought? I'd almost certainly not be marrying an Asian girl. Heck, I can't recall a single Asian person being my friend until my adolescence in high school. Would I save my money for the things I do now or want the big truck like my dad and several of my uncles have? I learned to drive in a stick shift truck and it was powerful. 

I took Kiana and Elaine out there and showed them the house I was. Somehow, illogically, I told her all the less than smart shaninagans I'd gotten into like driving my uncle's car with my cousins a mile or so around the park, or shooting b-b guns in places I shouldn't have and after a quarter of a century I finally confessed to my mom one of the dumbest thing I ever regularly did as a child which was climb a lights tower at a baseball field that swayed with the wind. I've wondered many times how I could have been so stupid because at the bottom you go through the middle but to get all the way to the top required climbing on the outside and a simple slip would have resulted in many broken bones or worse. So I took the girls I loved most and showed the tower to them and told them about the stupidity of it and then climbed it in front of them. Yes, all the way to the top. I took them to all 3 places where I'd lived. Don't know if the houses seemed smaller because I was smaller and they were bigger in memory or just cause I have a little more room in a house now (my house is 1200 square feet but it seems much bigger than my childhood ones). The memories of how much I loved the library, the parks I played in. The entire town is only 2.5 square miles so they got the full tour in a short time and they had patience and smiles which ended with the place I'd get rewarded for good grades and perfect attendance with an ice cream blizzard. A few bad memories came up so I'm not repressing anything as well as silly ones like the first time I saw a girls bra strap at a park at this park. But mostly it was just good friends and family that came up. The first mascot I identified with, the Yellowjacket was in a few places, in the place I first learned to 'bee' myself. There were a few changes with the heartbreakign one was that the first track I ever ran in was no longer there but it felt like it had changed the least out of any place I've ever returned to or currently live in. 

Why had I not just gone down a few miles from my mom's house? I don't know. I've never felt the need to, it's like I've never gone back to high school reunions. I made a small appearance on my 10th one but no matter how good the bad or past is, I'm always about what's next. Why did I go now? I think it was more than anything to show the two ladies I love a little bit of my childhood, on the edge of town. 

It just rhymed with where we had been recently. Just a few days before, a week ago today, they had come with me to my MRI. I've ran and biked to and from MRI's and medical appointments many times in the 4 years since they let me start driving again but I'd never once had company in either one of those. This time they both biked to and from with me. Then they were both then the results. The night before I'd only asked one of them, Kiana, what she hoped would be the results. She said, "I always hope they they tell you its smaller or it's gone." I told her that was all but impossible and the best hope was that it was stable and she retorted without hesitation, "You can't tell me what to hope for!" I love that kid so much.

This was on the way home from the Moonlight Margarita Run with her. It's a race that I've done several years consecutively. Without exception I had finished in the top 10 every year but I knew this streak was going to end because for the 1st time ever Kiana was going to get to be part of it and she's still being kind enough to let me keep her company. It was the hottest one in its 15 year history. Kiana looked miserable early on and I confused my roles of dad/coach and asked her if she wanted to slow down. I got a loud no in return. About halfway she asked why I was slowing down and I said I'm just running next to you, I'm not pacing you and she reprimanded me with then you need speed up. With about a half mile to go, at the point where I know, I know you're supposed to be miserable if you're doing a 5k right, she looked so rough and I again asked if she wanted to slow down. She glared and again shouted no and then started picking off people and would get her fastest 5k ever, 21:33. Elaine was there waiting for us with the news that she too had her fastest 5k ever (a little under a minute faster than Kiana). My streak was over, just like my Austin marathon streak ended with running Kiana's first 5k next to her. Both of those streaks ended gloriously behind beautiful family. My concern for Kiana overruled the logic of that she was pushing her body the way she should be during a 5k. Her concern for me is that she was pushing her hope beyond what I saw as logical. Neither my guidance nor hope came true but I think we both netted great results. 

The next morning I got up and ran before they were awake because I don't sleep so well between the MRI and it's results but they came with me and the doctor immediately told me that everything was stable and we looked at it. The last (and only other) time I'd ever taken Elaine to a medical appointment my nervousness about medical results had interrupted me introducing her but this time the doctor knew who she was and carried himself with the same great demeanor he always does. He is the last wedding invite and I delivered it in person, unsure of how
proper protocol is in the patient/doctor relationship but decided ultimately it was his call. Kiana was holding the invitation and I'd joked with her that he was only invited if he gave me good results, something she pointed out was not okay and that she'd give it either way. I wonder who feels more awkward between the 3 of us, me, Elaine or Kiana as I'm sitting there sharing medical details including ones that I promise you I'd not want to hear about either of my parents at 11. Still, Kiana enjoyed the imagery of the brain though it was the first time she at least audibly noticed that its clearly my profile on the skull. It had no growth and it didn't show my hair so there wasn't anything scary showing on it. 

I slept really well last night even if there's been some stressors. We're working on wedding details, some of which are overwhelming to crunch numbers or with puzzles or logistics. Still I ordered our wedding bands yesterday, mine is super and hers is hopeful. I also ordered the bowtie I'm wearing (cause bowties are cool). Tomorrow there's a meeting with the caterer and other details with our great wedding coordinator. People keep asking if I'm stressed but I'm not because I take it in stride because I know it's just going to be a good party with good friends. I've never been to a party with good friends that the details were more important than the friendship. 

And I know that when I get home after it's all done and people have gone to their own homes, I get to go back to mine where there is a woman I get to call wife and a little girl who is growing wiser. I wouldn't have dreamed up this life in Kermit or in California or in the middle of some of the messes with brain cancer. It would have been beyond anything I'd hoped for so maybe I'll take that lesson from Kiana and rather than just focus on getting back to where I was that no one can tell me how much I can hope for. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A New Hello

I was chatting with someone about the beer mile yesterday, still an odd place to have been interviewed for. Still I was chatting about how I never do it with a beer I want to have often because it creates bad associations. Nonetheless, this week I've been playing with changing associations to a song that comes to mind almost every time I step into an MRI machine, a disturbed hello to the Sound of Silence. 

It wasn't a thorough effort, simply listening to other songs that literally are named Hello. Lionel Richie was the first to come to mind, quoted in today's title about a thought to sing to that machine, 'Hello, is it me you're looking for?' The theory is that they are looking for any changes to this brain tumor, to see if this cancer has grown. That invader fees like someone who walks into your house trying to rob all that's precious. There are reasonable people who would run in that situation but I grew up in a tough neighborhood and while in the entirety of my life, I've never started a fight, let's just say I've finished a few. If anyone ever did that in my house, they'd find me responding. I hope it never happens for many reasons but if it ever does perhaps once they meet what I keep near my bed for any emergency, I'll get it together enough to say "Hello, is it me you're looking for?" It obviously is not but I couldn't control the break in to my brain my cancer but I hope if it ever has or ever does try to stretch beyond where it currently is, that's the line it feels is being delivered from the rest of my mind, heart and soul. Those are the pump up thoughts I try to have, the ones that carried me to 3rd place at the pace I wanted to keep yesterday during a 5k. Kiana has her 5k tonight so she was kind enough to volunteer at the water stop and that may well be why I was able to close well.

There are negative possibilities that could come from the MRI. Yesterday I had lunch with a friend that we met at a church I've only ever been to for a race and the funeral of a brain cancer survivor I wrote of recently. While meeting him was definitely a blessing in the day, there is no way to not thing about that something could have changed and that maybe my funeral is not too far away. The most currently daunting Hello in my music library also has been listened to, it's Evanescence's Hello and the entire song is the haunting haunted type:

If I smile, and don't believe 
Soon I know I'll wake from this dream
Don't try to fix me, I'm not broken.
Hello, I'm the lie living for you so you can hide.
Don't cry.

Suddenly I know I'm not sleeping
Hello, I'm still here.
All that's left of yesterday.

By happenstance because literally none of us have the same doctor there are a few brain cancer friends who all have MRI's right around this time. Only two of us are in the same town anymore, the 3rd had a growth last December and is no longer alive. Another grew about a year ago so they're every 3 months but therefor their every other one still overlaps but they are in treatment and doing well but her and her significant other decided not to have kids. A third had some growth a while back and he has gone into kick ass treatment and he and his doctor got the results yesterday and were pleased. His next one will now be 4 moths. The other I still have no idea what happened and so I hope is all is well. One thing I will not be ever is in denial of the very real possibilities that come to people with this disease. Of course we all die but brain cancer has more statistical probability models than getting hit in a car accident etc. 

So I go in there in a bit wondering if soon I'll be working on my wedding and thinking about some medical decisions including end of life. It's no coincidence that I've been trying to figure out how to update my will in light of my upcoming nuptials. But I also spent some time in a furniture store yesterday looking at a table to complete one room's remodeling. I have neither updated the will nor did I buy the table... letting both maybes linger a little longer. 

Still, with rare exception, I have run or biked to and from my MRI. It's only 2.5 miles away after all. Depending on how much the contrast dye makes me want to or actually gets me to vomit is how much I variate the route to enjoy the route. Today, since it's summer time and both Kiana and Elaine will be joining me, I hope to talk them into biking the route there and back. For the longest time, my bike was my car due to 3 years of driving restrictions because of seizures from this thing. There's something freeing about getting to do it as a choice and perhaps it's naivete but I proposed with a ring that had hope on it, it's still the hope that movement outside is keeping my blood flowing to the good places and away from the tumor. Did I mention I have another 5k with the girls tonight and I'm getting up tomorrow and Saturday for a longer run? 

I'll get the results tomorrow. As always best case scenario is we took a really expensive picture of you to tell you you're not any better or any worse. There are people who I suppose hope things have magically gone away but I just have never even wished that was the case, the little girl I'm raising and the girl who is out my league that I'm marrying is probably already pushing it with the universe being extra nice in giving me good luck. The machine I'll sit in today doesn't change anything; it just tells me what's there, if anything ahs changed. We appreciate reinforcement of feelings I suppose, why we honk or swear at those people we don't like in traffic, why we send thank you cards and gifts, why we say I love you, they are demonstrations of actions when they are at their most honest. 

Still, I didn't sleep great last night. If I'm lucky, I'll do what I've done in the past and fall asleep in the machine since it's the possibilities not the process that can create stress. If not, I'll try to think about the fact Kiana's been in a transition to middle school this week and the bike rides we've had. I'll think about tonight's race and margarita (Kiana only gets to share in half of that). I'll think about the RSVP's to the wedding that have come and how I really hope so and so gets out on the dance floor. I'll think about all the jokes people have been making about my hair. It's a lonely tunnel in there and it's not wise to only let my mind wonder on what could be happening in my brain and not about what's going on in the rest of my life. 

But when it's done, I imagine the Hello I'll be thinking about will be Adele's and as I leave that facility to bike home, it will be good to say "Hello from the outside, at least I can say that I've tried." So if you're reading this, thank you and well the next time we see each other, let's have a good hello.