Thursday, June 28, 2012

Back to the Future

The unfortunate thing about those athletic events is they don’t last forever. In the last 3 days I’m going to have 4 significantly medical events, perhaps 5. I had an MRI where upon receiving the results I joked that I was stable… well at least my MRI said my tumor was. But the neurological appointment said things were going well and we had a long conversation about my memory and even about the fact that I was focusing so hard on athletics wasn’t because I trusted my mind less. The doctor reminded me that there’s still plenty left but then shared a story about a patient who due to a brain surgery of a different type has much less functional memory but is a very good tennis player. He leaves things out on the tennis court because the part that rules that is in a different part of the brain and in the muscles themselves.
I had a job interview with marathon kids which went well enough to where I have a second one next week. I dare to dream but you can’t have all your eggs in one basket it turns out.  I have another job interview next Monday with the city of Austin… It would pay the bills but the work is from 10 AM to 9 PM… Monday through Thursday. If I get that offer should I take it? It comes with good health benefits but it would mean turning in my life from things like training for rides and marathons with a group midweek to more importantly what kind of a parent only wakes up their kid and gets them to school or only has weekends with them… oh yes, that would be the non custodial parent? Is there really any honest way to take that job if it came and still suggest that Kiana should live with me? But if no other job offers come, do I turn into my grandfather and father and am happy to adequately provide what my daughter needs and rarely see her?

The body signs are still good. My heart rate is still in the 40’s though not as good as after Boston (something I suspected since cycling is not as good/tough on your heart as marathon training is). My blood pressure is actually lower showing that perhaps being unemployed is good for my stress levels or that perhaps somewhere in the last year and half it might have done me good to rest for a while.

I have an appeal with the job today and an attorney who is ready to take the case in a far more aggressive manner than I am wired for. My neighbors kept saying I was being too nice to my ex during the divorce proceedings… Now people wonder why I don’t quite take the job on but I am wired to try to beat someone down a race but not people who I trust and respect (though some of that has shifted into the past).

I said something to the Livestrong Crew about I wish I’d listened to their suggestions more earlier in the process but I am still trying to listen, trying to not reinvent the wheel and wondering what to fight for. Livestrong’s new Logo is “Pick a Fight”  I listened to the blues on the green concert last night with Kueller singing about fight fight fight till your dying day and there are two very different strategies to go into that meeting with today and which one is the right one… seems to be the story of my life. A friend of mine whose cancer went from stage 3 to stage 1 after treatment was there. Three different people yesterday alone this week alone keep telling me to get into the dating scene once/if I find ajob. One I don’t know how but more significantly I just can’t shake this I’ve got too much baggage thing.

The neuropsychological appointment went well and as we discussed with the doctor why I’d gotten an IPAD and an Iphone, things which I always call cheating and they always call compensating… he reminded me some of this would have happened with age anyway but that this had happened overnight and being hit with another disaster maybe made it worse or maybe made it to where I just didn’t realize it for a long long time. He then showed me his iphone notes where he literally had the names of the front lady at the gym’s name just to be able to have those social graces. That moment of humanity was incredibly helpful.

I did a 5k last night… slowest one ever because of the heat. I think I had more left in the tank but when I start to feel really too hot I think about that moment back in February. The doctor doesn’t think I should but call it post-traumatic stress syndrome. I’m becoming more fearful at some level of all this because it would take me a few weeks to get back to run that same course. I guess this is trauma, afraid of heat, afraid of drawing close to someone who might leave (somehow a break up doesn’t scare me if life were normal but what if they left while I’m literally trying to get back to driving again and with a gigantic scar on the side of my head nowhere near dry much less healed, why take that gamble again?).
Someone from USA today called yesterday to talk about Obamacare and what I thought about my employment and insurance situation in light of today’s supreme court setting. I had very little to say about it since that’s definitely not my expertise. At some level I know that a lot of the last 3 days has a lot of effect on my future or lack thereof. Someone who recently added me on facebook asked if I had a tumor... it was an amusing moment to realize that someone who hadn’t spoken to me in a while had of course no clue. She asked why Livestrong was so important to me… I responded with something that’s taken some time to sink in: As I say in the video, I didn't realize how big this would be. Livestrong would connect me to Duke, the guy who did Ted Kennedy's surgery did mine. I worried more about the finances than the medical things. That was dumb. Eventually I started worrying about the medical things more but forgot the emotions. Livestrong had offered to connect me (and my wife) and Kiana to things like counseling for couples for kids, someone else who'd had the same diagnosis. I blew all this off and lost some significant things... Perhaps they wouldn't have stayed around anyway and couldn't have handled it who knows but I wish I'd made some better decisions about taking guidance and help. I've always tried to dismiss the fact that I was already training for the marathon and it was just a coincidence that it was the first time it was the Livestrong marathon but maybe it's time to accept a quote that sits on my wall from Einstein that you can treat life like nothing is a miracle or everything is. I've made jokes, ran and biked some great races and rides but those aren't the only ways to deal with emotions. Acknowledging the fears, the hurts... I've still got a long way to go. But I am accepting that there's no need to reinvent the wheel like tomorrow I am going to Livestrong's parenting and cancer classes. I don't know if I'll beat this or not... I've always assumed no but want to keep fighting as long as I can and with the help of friends on the personal level... and this organization, it gives me some tools which makes anything easier.

I’d love to say I don’t know what tomorrow brings but I’m not sure what’s coming today… but recognizing mistakes of  handling this, I hope as my focus resits back on the future… 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Something Old, Something New

I wonder sometimes if I make these athletic events such big mile markers because they have mile markers themselves. This century ride was a serious privilege. As I checked into the hotel I crashed into Amy Dodson ( who I had met briefly in Austin. We agreed to go running the next day and she wanted to both run and cycle  longer than I had intended to since she’s training for an ironman. I accompanied her and was impressed… she has a great humility to her. I posted her blog on my facebook and my mom who knows I’ve ran 5 marathons and 5 half marathons was finally inspired to sign up for her first half… 
I went to the booths to pick up my packet and met the UT kids from the Austin 4000 ( and was thoroughly impressed with the character and maturity of these kids who are riding 4000 miles to fight cancer. Somehow the fact that I was going to ride 100 the next day seemed a lot smaller… But it was just a weekend of great characters, people who had formed different teams from the area, who were riding in honor of someone, in memory of someone, as survivors themselves. I ran and rode with someone with Amy who is missing part of one leg, I met with someone who rode a very modified bike so that they were able to because of some of their medical issue. I met a woman who was not a cyclist at all but whose son was a serious one who was riding 100 miles on tandem with her to celebrate her success over breast cancer (he was a serious enough cyclist to where on the ride he would pass me going up hill).

I’ve done some Livestrong and Brain cancer related events for a while now… trying to “pay back” the people who saved my life… but this was the first weekend where I felt more comfortable with this being part of my permanent identity. Some of the awkwardness and uncomfortableness I’ve had seemed to be far more faded and I tried to embrace two big parts of the speech that Amy shared… to those who  much is given, much is expected and our scars are a symbol of our courage. I mentally rode with my aunt who passed away from cancer in mind, with a sticker to remind me of the little girl who I’d taught to bike through this process. I even had some fun with it and because of a certain donation I had to shave my legs. I’ve always had plenty of respect for the female gender but it grew exponentially with 4 razors and over an hour to take away 30 years worth of hair…
Like I do before every event… I laid out my gear Friday night. When this all started, showing some scars which are still healing but much closer than they ever have been, I had joked  that this bike that was lent to me was about what an engagement ring should cost so I was committed. Then I realized that in the gear there was something old (the gear I’d been training with), something new (the new Livestrong helmet ), something borrowed (the bike itself) and something blue (my road id medical bracelet), it seemed like proper gear to be having at the end of the training and the beginning of the road. My heart is still healing from all of the messes from the last year… Interestingly enough I met someone who had made “gold ring bands” out of the Livestrong bracelet. I remembered the comment I’d made that if I ever propose again it would be with Livestrong gear… she immediately gave me a new ring. I’ve put in a safe place for now. 

The ride itself was both easier and tougher than I expected. It started out very cold and I shook for the first 10 miles… one of the Texas 4000 girls offered me their jacket… it took all the machismo I had to say no. I didn’t have music like I do with running and after mile 71 each stroke was longer than I had ever done. I was afraid of stopping since I was afraid of not being able to get back on the bike but I didn’t want to make rookie mistakes so I rode with various people till about the halfway mark because they were smart and took the power stops and I just refilled the water bottles…I was averaging about 17.5 miles an hour for that first half… I rode with a girl from the Texas 4000 for the first 20 miles, with a 6 year survivor for another 10, with someone who had so many names in memory of on the back of him for 10 more. I didn’t feel the need to stop at mile 60 but was out of water but one of the kids from the Texas 4000 said they were going to stop anyway and traded me water bottles. So there was essentially no stopping in the second half.

Then riding on my own, trusting the training that Chris Brewer had provided I kept stepping it up the second half to finish in a total time of 5:20 about a 19 mile an hour overall pace. I had set a goal of finishing between 5:30 and 6:00 to have a good time but the bigger goal, learning the lesson from Boston, was to have a “good time.”For the first time ever (I tried to take the turns and downhills fast and not be too scared of the helmet not staying in “new” condition. I pulled off both almost only hitting the break once).I loved the ride but the muscles hurt…sometimes love don’t feel like it should because it hurts so good. I went in fist in the air and screaming to my heart’s content about finishing my first century. It was awesome.

I am going to miss the bike and the cycling… but it gave me some quiet reassurance that like new life with a disease you never saw coming and life changes left and right you would have bet tons of money against… that maybe just maybe something new that you never saw coming and couldn’t possibly imaging learning how to do, much less do well, can go okay. I thanked the Livestrong staff and said something that I needed and need to acknowledge that if I had listened to more of their guidance like turning to one of their connections for the emotional success of both my family and me and not just the logistical and medical items, I’d have done far more right. Life has changed and will probably continue to. It’s an incredibly unpredictable adventure where I’ve had to learn skills I never knew I was missing and rode through things I never expected… and each one that was successful was where I let more experienced people guide me. This was a skill I didn’t have until recently (and that I am nowhere near being good at), a course I’d never seen some with new friends and some with old ones all due to the second chance that I’ve been given. A rather big one in my opinion… I hope and pray I can do what’s required with it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hierarchy of Needs

I went today and pulled my medical records for the first time since Duke. I have learned to trust my doctors and so hadn’t been looking as closely at them but with more spare time, I sat down and read them… interestingly enough my marathons(all 3 are mentioned including Boston by name) and 100 mile rides are in the records more than I realized. There are a lot of great technical terms in there that made me spend more time on google than I had in a while…apparently during EEG I have mild focal dysfunction in my left temporal lobe,  t2 change with the anterior temporal lobe, and often mentioned memory and retrieval capacities, k1-67 stain, p53 study, MID-1, gadolinium, syncopal spell… Anyway, it’s clear why the brain is complicated. Actually, a friend of mine who does some coordination with the national health institute was fairly blunt about that they don’t put much grant money into brain cancer as compared to others for a variety of reasons. One of these is simple, it’s less than 2% of cancers and has less than 20% survival rate as opposed to say breast cancer and testicular cancer which used to kill a lot more people (here’s where you put in the easy joke about how those other things are more involved in sex; I kid you not there was a woman who when I got the diagnosis took the opportunity to tell me how she was excited about her breast cancer diagnosis because the prognosis was so good and her insurance automatically included a breast enhancement surgery). The other reason is we just don’t know that much about the brain.

The lightest I’ve been since my sophomore year in high school was a few weeks after my spouse left (153 lbs), showing stress is better for weight loss than, or biking. It actually notes no past medical history other than sports related injuries… I am not sure if that’s comforting.
And then I’m sitting here looking at my life insurance plans… and trying to fill them out and realizing that if I just put the money away… but would I be able to put it away and how long do I have. The COBRA items have not arrived…Turns out that without Obamacare havging kicked in, even if I got a job with benefits some things would never get covered if it was certain companies. Insurance is a big money maker with over 100 companies in the game… Everyone dies so let’s make some money off that and if you bet it right, your family wins and if we bet it right, we pocket some money. My health insurance throughout this process has denied some things my doctors thought necessary. Everyone has their right to make a living somehow but even though an insurance company was interested in me… that was a job that I can’t take no matter how well it pays and look myself in the eye.

But I’ve been thinking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs… now a basic research of it shows that it’s been debunked in some ways, the main criticism is that it just doesn’t work from people who come from collective societies. I sat through two interviews today… one with a program that helps children and one that connects people to ways they can make more money. I sat and realized that I’m wired wrong… or at least different. Without exception, all the jobs I’ve ever liked were ones dominated by women. Being a teacher, probation officers tend to be mostly female. I was raised by a single mom and my grandmother and great grandmother pitched in so maybe that’s why… who knows. I’ve been told I’ve lost man cards for painting my toenails and wearing heals just to play around with Kiana. I don’t know if gender roles should be that clear. In the ones where the primary interviewer have been women it’s been about how I can help people… In the ones where it’s been primarily men, it’s about how I can move up and make even more money working 50-60 hours a week but that will go down after a few years… How does one make these decisions with a 5 year old period and how does one make them under my circumstances?

I am headed to a workout tonight, trying to still think that maybe pushing my body to good health matters and doing another official trackmeet Thursday and the 100 mile ride Sunday. Perhaps it’s because I’ve raised money for Livestrong 4 times in 1 year, perhaps because Lance Armstrong is in an odd way in the news right now, perhaps because it’s just not that good of a story, the fundraising efforts for this weekend weren’t met. I’ve not managed to get anyone to donate $50 even with the I’ll shave my legs for it. The $100K that they had hoped to raise with the direct mail piece turned out to be $30k so far.

I hope somehow somewhere somethings work out. I’ve always been a dreamer but most every child is and sometimes dreams just can’t or don’t come true…. I don’t want to be Fantine or any of the Les Miserable’s characters…

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong
I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
As they turn your dream to shame

What happens next… I just don’t know. I’ve coordinated many events in my life, gotten lots of good grades, prepared legal paperwork but I don’t think I’ve ever sat with as much paperwork as I’m sitting right now with the health insurance and medical records and … and… maybe it’s time to look down lower on the hierarchy of needs… maybe it’s an opportunity to get to the top. Only time reveals the future. I just hope I have plenty of that left.

Monday, June 18, 2012

White Blank Page

Somewhere in the middle of all this, someone who inspired me to dare to dream that I might be able to move on past a damaged brain and a broken heart sent me a song by Mumford and Sons, White Blank Page:

I sat and listened to the lyrics  trying to make sense of why sent it to me… and she was gorgeous enough that the fact that we had a musical connection made me wish I could dance or more with her…

Can you lie next to her
and give her your heart, your heart?
As well as your body
And can you lie next to her
and confess your love, your love?
As well as your folly
And can you kneel before this king
and say "I'm clean", "I'm Clean"?

Her white blank page
and a swelling rage, rage
You did not think when you sent me to the brink, to the brink
You desired my attention, but denied my affections, my affections

So tell me now where was my fault,
in loving you with my whole heart?

Nothing ever occurred between her and I but I downloaded the song. A few days later the person who would soon be breaking that vow of being together till our death when I’d felt the closest I’d been to death would incidentally send me a song from the same album, Little Lion Man
Weep for yourself, my man,
You'll never be what is in your heart
Weep Little Lion Man,
You're not as brave as you were at the start
Rate yourself and rake yourself,
Take all the courage you have left
Wasted on fixing all the problems
That you made in your own head

Tremble for yourself, my man,
You know that you have seen this all before
Tremble Little Lion Man,
You'll never settle any of your scores
Your grace is wasted in your face,
Your boldness stands alone among the wreck
Now learn from your mother or else spend your days Biting your own neck
But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time
Didn't I, my dear?
Didn't I, my...

Both of those songs address some issues about fault, where was my fault in loving you with my whole heart, something that anything and anyone I’ve ever loved is the way I approach it. A co-worker who had sworn forever she’d never get married and then gotten married very quickly would come back and talk to me as I fell apart during the break up and she said you just don’t handle the break up well because you love too intensely. It’s okay you’ll find someone else. Everyone in marathon training says don’t listen to your body, rule it with your mind when the pain starts. My body has hurt and I’ve ignored it but I am not sure how  much I trust my mind.
Why my previous spouse who was breaking me would send me a song about weeping for myself because I would never be what was in my heart, I am not sure… I am not sure at all. I crashed into another county worker as I went to pick up my last paycheck on Friday who was kind enough to say that the way I handle problems inspires him… perhaps letting that boldness stand alone among the wreck. 

Appropriately enough both of these were from Mumford and Sons Albums, Sigh No More. I am a long way from achieving their album title… a long long way. I have a job interview tomorrow and I still think and dream that there’s hope in the future and in the present but I just don’t know how this road ends… and I’d pay some serious money to have some foresight, to just see something coming. I don’t know where religion derives (here’s where friends of different religions reprimand me) but somewhere on the frightening moments I wonder if it’s not simply hoping that somewhere down the road we have an assured promise everything will be all right forever.

I received the Life Insurance information today and the Cobra information. Ironically this occurred a few hours after I sent an email to the county about asking why I hadn’t received it… not so much because I wanted to be a pain but because if Cobra is necessary you have to pay it backward and are eligible but if somehow I were to die, no one could try to pay it backwards because well I’d be dead. On the financial end  for roughly half of what I used to make now that I’m not making anything I could keep health insurance and life insurance.

The guy from Livestrong who helped me train unfortunately had something come up and so is not going to be able to ride with me in the Davis Challenge so now this new adventure I have to do without the partner I expected. This is starting to get to be my new normal. I know that 18 months ago I wouldn’t have guessed any of my life but you know I’d love to be able to guess week to week every once in a while again...

Still, I am choosing to go with my heart. It’s broken and probably permanently damaged like my brain but it’s not like you go without using either unless they are completely gone. Kiana’s mom and I sat down and made some progress in regards to some things. Some things will and should of course be kept very private. Perhaps in that reality of knowing to listen to my heart but trying to incorporate both the mind and the body to be a full soul, I traded for 2 weekends that were scheduled for Kiana to be with her. One of them was the BrainPower 5k weekend. My PR recently was with her at the finish line. . The other was scheduling Kiana to be here the weekend of the Austin Marathon with my mom. The one time I’ve ever achieved a Boston qualifying time was when she was someone I saw on the course and in Boston stopping to hug her made me realize that a PR wasn’t worth the risk. I think both decisions were pursuing giving my body and mind the best of my heart.

I know longer have health insurance or life insurance but I’m working on it as best as I can. On the previous job issue, we have a meeting next week. If we work something out that day that will be the end of the adventure but I’m not just going to say yeah you guys were right; this might have gotten emboldened by the Texas Workforce Commission sending a letter last Friday that “your employer fired you for a reason that was not misconduct connected with the work” and even put in a legal reference . If we can work it out fine. With Kiana’s mother, I gave more than what was fair in the hope that since we were stuck with each other that would be accepted as a peace offering. With the work, we may never have to deal with each other again so if I am not able to work out something with them, I’ll literally walk across the street and they can then deal with someone who charges a lot more money than I do to meet with them. Livestrong decided I wasn’t qualified for their job. I applied for a job with marathon kids, trying to still decide to find a job that I believe in, not just one that pays the bill… going to try to hold that possibility as long as possible, giving myself a few more weeks before I apply or accept jobs that are "only" about paying the bills.
I sit here and try to decide what parts of myself to give up on in order to be able to take care of Kiana and pay the bills… and it’s not an easy decision. Crisis both reveals and creates character so I am trying to take this as an opportunity for a wide open future. When the cancer first hit and I was so afraid of being broke, I buckled down and spent no money that was unnecessary between the diagnosis and the surgery. Then when Kiana’s mom left, I did something similar other than some changes around the house to be able to cope. Now, I still am trying to be financially intelligent and responsible but yesterday was father’s day so I took Kiana bowling (she got her first strike and 2 spares). My mom gave her her first serious high heels (this is the way grandparents get back at you for misbehaving in your own youth) and today I was ready to take someone to dinner just to get some quality time with an adult and to prepare for the 100 mile ride...
It’s a blank white page in almost every aspect of my life… here’s hoping something good gets written on it and that I love it with my whole heart.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When My Time Comes

I went to 3 jobs interviews today. Two insurance companies have talked to me and having previously been in sales with good numbers they want me to take it. I gotta tell you those interviews took all my composure when I realized how much money they make off insurance when I’ve paid so much stuff out of my own pocket and things my doctors suggested to insurance was rejected. I am not sure what the right solution is whether it’s something like the European or Canadian systems or the criticisms of Obama care of death panels but that took something out of me today. Both of their sales pitches was about how I could make money while helping people… the first felt emphasized a lot more than the second. And interestingly enough, what they make the most money off of is life insurance.

I also went to a job interview with Big Brother where it would be more than a 25% pay cut… and the job sounded great but I also have a kid and a house that it may not be doable. What do you compromise? People have suggested the take a job that pays the bills for a while even if it’s something you don’t believe in. It’s beyond logical but I have 4 days in the last 18 months that I don’t remember where I might not have ever woken up. Why waste even one? The ones that make more money also of course you have to work harder but… how much is a moment with my princess worth just so she has more toys or more financial security; that’s not an easy answer. I spent a couple of hours at her daycare with her today after the interview and we just sat and drew some pictures… I’ve applied for some jobs with the school district and I haven’t heard back but that would be an ideal job because then I’d have the times she is off with her, summers and holidays and that’s worth 10 billion dollars to me. When her mother first went back to work, it was at Kiana’s daycare and I thought it was amazing of her because then she wouldn’t have to spend a moment less than necessary without her parents. I don’t understand people who have kids so other people can raise them. If that’s the theory of evolution… I just don’t get it. I sit here and try to crunch numbers about Kiana’s daycare costs go down when she starts school… I don’t know. I grew up poor and never noticed but I remember lots of moments with my mother, the woman that gave me such maternal instincts and well… drawing with chalk on the sidewalk and riding bicycles together is free.

I had a map in my office and one in my house of everywhere I’d been. I actually put them all up after the surgery, wondering if I’d ever get to leave the states again and step foot on foreign soil (haven’t pulled it off yet). I did it hoping that the dream would stay alive but even though before all this I’d seen several of the wonders of the world and it’s never going to be lost on me that the day this surgery was done I was supposed to be in Brazil for Carnaval celebrating life… and somedays I’m tired of the question marks… just so tired. I sat and talked with an old friend today, 5 years younger than me but we’d played ultimate Frisbee for a while and he said he never really had a glimpse of the oddness of cancer till he saw it in me, “This was the guy who never drinks or smokes. He always exercises and eats healthier than most people.” He asked how I dealt with it, how he thought that I did it better than anyone else he knows… well good enough to keep friends and family close… good enough to run marathons… badly enough to lose a spouse and a job… He asked if I thought I would beat this and I answered frankly that I am just working off the assumption that the first idea that we’re hoping to get me to 40 is the way I approach it… which is true at some level but there are few days where I don’t think about the fact that in 18 months there are 4 days I don’t remember at all that could have had a huge game changer or game ender… And of course people say that’s true for everyone and it is. But how many of us have 4 days that everyone else remembers and you don’t have a moment’s realization of it? I am proud to have represented survivors and that the fact I keep going and helping others who are also trying. And I’d sign up to do it again rather than wish it on anyone else… And I  hate those 4 days but only a fraction of how much I love all the other days and all the other people who have been here to be helpful in the ride.

If anything that I’ve learned from marathons and this cycling training, it’s just not to quit, to get to the finish line but there’s just no clear one here and that’s exhausting when the goal line keeps moving. I went to a free concert in the park today and crashed into some coworkers and some attorneys who are willing to state what is true, that I was someone who had things together at work but didn’t just nod and smile when he disagreed. Another friend there commented on how I looked the most fit they had ever seen me… I wondered if I’m not in the best physical shape of my life because I am afraid of my brain…

The 5k today after riding 70 miles was not great. I won my age group but it wasn’t a PR or anywhere near it (19:00 minutes if you must know). Sometimes hard work from the recent past doesn’t let you get back to your best too quickly. But I am going to keep training, trying my absolute best to break 18 for the first time ever at the BrainPower 5k. Still, I created a playlist that had a song that I heard recently for the first time, when my time comes that reflects that you can always try hard but you can’t always be your best... but I still gave it all I had today.
There were moments of dreams I was offered to save
I live less like a workhorse, more like a slave
I thought that one quick moment that was noble or brace
Would be worth the most of my life.

So I pointed my fingers, and shout a few quotes I knew
As if something that's written should be taken as true
But every path I have taken and conclusion I drew
Would put truth back under the knife.

And now the only piece of advice that continues to help:
Is anyone that's making anything new only breaks something else.

So I took what I wanted and put it out of my reach
I wanted to pay for my successes with all my defeats,
And if heaven was all that was promised to me
Why don't I pray for death?
And now it seems like the unraveling has started too soon,
Now I'm sleeping in hallways and I'm drinking perfume
And I'm speaking to mirrors and I'm howling at moons
While the worst and the worst that it gets.

Oh you can judge all the world on the sparkle that you think it lacks.
Yes you can stare into the abyss, but it's staring right back.

My older brother says “La Felicidad no es completa.” Happiness is not complete. I don’t know anyone who is always or completely  happy but what do you compromise for what? Do you compromise your time and your morals to make more money? Do you compromise your money to be true to your soul?

The job that I was most interested in, Big Brother Big Sister I told them about the Livestrong and cancer stuff… Maybe that’s foolish but if anyone wants to take me on in the job market or in the dating scene, I guess I want them to know that at the start and not have it be an awkward moment down the road. Sharing that I had done that with a friend, they told me my honesty was overrated…I don't know... I don't know. I meet with someone from Determination from the American Cancer Society on Friday about some involvement there. Lance Armstrong made the news today about doping and I don't know and I don't care. Livestrong I've learned very quickly and personally is much much bigger than him individually. 

 But to quote the song above… when my time comes, the only advice that continues to help is anyone that’s making anything new only breaks something else. Well many things are broken… here’s hoping the new is better. And I hope that’s my approach until my time comes. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Room of One's Own

In college, I read Virgina Woolf’s book where this title is borrowed from. It talked about how women need had been short shifted of various things… it’s full of great ideas but perhaps the one that sank in the most was the one that girls needed a room of their own. When Kiana was born, we bought a house a month before and it was “nested” at her birth. Shortly after the surgery, her and I picked out decorations and she picked out 95% of them including the paint color, a moment that as I left it completely up to her sure made me nervous.

I met with a realtor today Mike Minns and crunched numbers with him about the house and moving and selling it and motivations. He was also the father of a little girl and as we walked around the house, it became evident he was more human than salesman, which perhaps made him better at both. He became aware that the guy who claims to be driven by logic had bought a house partly because it had a dog door for the “puppy” he brought from the south pacific and that the room that clearly had the most effort put into it was his daughter’s room and the one that had the least was his own. He expressed the gratefulness he had for his own wife and how much effort she puts into their parenting together. 

In the end, for the time being as we talked, we aren’t listing the house. I bought it a block away from a really good school a month before she was born so I could walk her to school and I hope to be able to pull that off. I sat for a job interview today and we’ll have a follow up but I can’t imagine I’ll take it. I think I’d be decent at it but they were selling how much money I could make… that can’t be the only reason to go to work. It was, oddly enough, with an insurance company and it was a little frustrating to hear how much money they paid… when I’ve argued with insurance companies so much for the last 18 months. They liked the fact I’d been valedictorian and class president and had trophies at home and that I was competitive. All of those things are true but the guy who was Salutatorian well he’s a specialist doctor making 400K a year and the girl who was vice president is also a doctor and makes about as much. (I could have never been a doctor, having no capacity to handle blood). My finances aren't great enough to stay unemployed forever... but theoretically because of the time I'm paid off I have time till July 15th and until then I want to take it a little slow because if there's anything I've learned from the exwife and the exjob is that I'm not much of a quitter, so I should be careful where I commit. Employment is stuff because there are great people where helping was a factor but money was a driving factor as well and it never has been for me. If the love of money is the root of all evil, I am a saint because I just couldn’t care less. I worked as a salesman for one year... worked hard at it in advertising, even selling the spine of the yellowpages. It enabled me paying for my exes college education without any debt... but I had no passion to go to work everyday.  I don’t know if I’m going to beat this, I kind of work off the original premise of what Friedman said, we’re hoping to get you to 40. My hopes are high but somewhere in my gut and on days I feel light headed well… I just don’t know if even 40 is coming and dying with more toys… well you still die. I keep training for races rather and keep looking at this bracelet… knowing I never get to be cancer free and telling myself that there may come a day where I don’t’ get to livestrong but today is not it. And if I go to work everyday just for a paycheck, is that in anyway living strong?

Andy Stewart (I may owe him my whole life, he turned me to my running group, to Livestrong, has given me clothes for Kiana) turned me to Greenlights which is a type thing for non profits. I’ve applied for a couple of jobs and have some interviews coming up, including one with Big Brother, Big Sisters. I don’t know a whole lot of details about it but somewhere my sense of humor wants to get the Big Brother one just so I can say, in the end I loved big brother. The American Cancer Society contacted me today saying that by the time I applied for their marathon/half marathon team coordinator they already had offered the position but that we can sit together to discuss other involvement in the future. And the magazine that turned me down for Most Eligible Bachelor wants to do an article and I’m going to see if I can’t spin it into something promoting the Brain Power5k and Hawktober… 

Kiana is with her mom for a couple of weeks during the extended summer visit and I am going to see her every day that she’s in daycare that I can pull off. I am going to take her out of it someday to do something here at home a few blocks away or take her out to eat.  Showing the efficiency of government, theoretically tomorrow is when I’m supposed to hear back from them but when I sent them an email saying I’d be going to the board above them if I didn’t her back by tomorrow, well they set an appointment for June 28th. I’ve had 3 attorneys who want to take this case which is saying something I guess. I haven’t signed anything but I will if we don’t get somewhere relatively decent on June 28th but I hope it doesn’t happen… I just think people ought to be able to work things out without attorneys but I am an idealist. But I am not just going to walk away with things as they are... because well that's dumb.

I don’t know if this is spin or trying to make myself feel better but I am trying to take this all as a (pun intended) mind opening experience. I rushed back from Duke to my running group who literally embraced me, to the Livestrong grand opening, to my family (some which would be gone very quickly) and to my job who wanted a hundred things signed… Some were easy to return to, some clearly this cancer and how I mishandled some of it and how I handled some of it was the last straw. The ones who have stuck with me and I with them… well it’s improved. I hope that ad that I did with Livestrong has helped show how great they are. Actually, all of this process has helped me understand why a big thing that Livestrong does is give people the option to still have kids after cancer…actually my favorite of the videos that got released at the same time as mine was one about that ( I am nowhere near ready but a good friend suggested that maybe if I found someone who helped me raise my child I should be prepared for us to have one of our own… if I could only grasp that providing for kids isn’t just about money. Although I've appreciated the half truth half lie joke that I need a woman who wants to be a mom but wants a stay at home dad. I'd sign up for that.

Some things are just better from good work and good guidance. I know I’m a better runner. My relationship with Kiana is better than it’s ever been because I keep working on the relationship I want to keep. Her room she always shows off when people come. It has a decoration of the moon (Kiana being the Hawaiian moon goddess), the color she picked for the walls (the color she wears the most often it seems) and is very moon related. In the end, I am glad for all I fought for but there’s no fight where there isn’t somethings lost, where some battle scars don't occur… Maybe that’s all I get out of all this, some appreciation for things I kept and I hope Kiana gets some of it and that I can help her keep a room of her own.  Here’s daring to dream.