Friday, December 28, 2018

Focus Point

Every year we have a tradition of putting an ornament representing the most important event of the year on Christmas Eve. This year, well to anyone with even a damaged brain, it was obviously the wedding. I originally started to type that in as the marriage but that would make no sense as that's not going to be something that's just part of 2018.

I've written long about the boyfriend girlfriend scenario and the engagement and the wedding itself so I won't repeat myself too much. Oddly enough, the ornament was of a wedding cake, something we did not have but it was customized with the year and with Kiana-hand-drawn figures of our astrological symbols which were used regularly in wedding decor. There are little moments of the tradition that matter like who hangs up the ornaments, subtleties that probably no one but me cares about but this year Elaine hung it up, formally part of it all. Although last couple of year's the ornaments were things she was also a part of and I presume that will be true indefinitely.

What was the greatest about the wedding was of course the union. What was not too far down the peg was that it was a re-union. There were friends and family there from every stage in life. Invariably, some will no longer be a part of the future because change is life's constant but with zero exceptions there are no previous ornaments that represent connections that are entirely in the past.

It's been the best year of my life thanks to that union and those reunions. It's been tough to watch some things like how mean spirited some people's social media posts have become about the other political side (I've literally deleted hundreds of people on mine, including some who were deleted before and were still invited to the wedding). I still struggle with how we define other viewpoints more and more as evil; I fully grant some things I disagree with are evil but not nearly as many as I see described that way on social media, some of those are just wrong and some are just variations. I loved that in my wedding there were different nationalities, viewpoints, religions represented. I like a variety of people. It is perhaps why a Mexican born immigrant married the child of Taiwanese Immigrants and have traveled to 5 World Wonders. The porters of Peru were as important as the concierged meals in high end restaurants. I mean that in regards to their personhood not just their careers. I believe Elaine understands that and thus one more reason why I love her.

But it was the best Christmas season I can remember but then again I have a damaged memory. There were good parties and good moments and my parents came into town where I showed them many Austin Christmasty things including ones I'd never seen before. There was a moment where Kiana, Elaine and my mom were all showing just how thoroughly they were unimpressed with me. It was one of those "It's a wonderful life" but in reverse osmosis moments.

I ran with a variety of friends this week including Kiana, Elaine, the guy who married us, hair dressers, people who I only know through running and I walked with my dog. You know I get asked as recently as last Sunday randomly by strangers at a Christmas like events what it's like to have been on the news a few times. Even the wedding represented by that ornament made the news. Still, honestly none of those compare to the fact that the little things like those walks and runs and traditions that predate my birth and my parents birth (so eternity as far as I'm concerned). Those were new once I suppose but even if I didn't have a damaged memory the only way to believe is to assume the story tellers and history makers did a reasonably acceptable job. I think they did but I am not worried if anyone besides the people who I've spent some Christmases with do and that I remember them. That's my focus and I'm glad we got to hang out with so many of them in August and with several of them at different times in life and throughout the year.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Time to Let the Old Ways Die

Maybe it's time to let the old ways die
It takes a lot to change a man
Hell, it takes a lot to try
Maybe it's time to let the old ways die
Nobody knows what awaits for the dead
Some folks just believe in the things they've heard
And the things they read
Nobody knows what awaits for the dead
I'm glad I can't go back to where I came from
I'm glad those days are gone, gone for good
But if I could take spirits from my past and bring' 'em here
You know I would, you know I would
For several years I'd be writing a lot of blogs around this time of year. They would be describing scanxiety and how I'm doing a lot of races as a way to deal with it. They'd be telling you what song I was listening to to shake off emotions before I got strapped into an MRI machine but for the first December since 2010, I was not inside a damn MRI. My doctor said a while back that if I got to 10 years, something I never thought would happen, we'd move to MRI's once a year. I'm the kid born 8/8/80 so when we got to 8 I emailed him and asked him if we could do it now, he honored it. That December tradition won't be missed. 
Look let's be clear, I'm a stubborn guy. There's times I aim it right and get commended for it; there's times I get into silliness with it and get my eyes rolled at and there are times it gets me in right down trouble. It would be a lie to say that I don't try to get the universe to bend to my will. It almost never does but neither my will nor the universe have broken the other yet. The universe will win in the end, of course, but as I have for 8 years with cancer and 38 years of life, I have a hard time believing that I won't be going down swinging. 
But that doesn't mean I'm not open to change. I head to court again with Kiana's mother on a petition of hers where I feel like I've made reasonable offers. My batting average is one I like in court and I feel like it goes my way more than not and so they seem like reasonable offers but I wonder if the stubbornness of years past is not forgotten because in simple honesty this has all along been more annoying than cancer. 
Still, the coping mechanisms remain. I've actually kept a pretty tight running schedule in the last few weeks. In November and December, I've won a 10k, a 5k and placed well in two other 5ks. I'm in good shape without having following any training schedule. Once upon a time I was doing well cause I was doing my training runs behind a stroller now it's because I'm running with friends and often doing a second workout next to Kiana who is getting harder and harder to keep up with. The 10k was my favorite was it was the first time Elaine and I won the same distance together and the first time I kept a consistent pace despite having a solid lead the entire race. In one 5k I beat a high schooler and in another one I got destroyed by another high schooler. It makes me think of the good old says back when I was good and wasn't so old. Ahh youth is wasted on the young. 
But it turns out that while anyone who plays poker against me knows I rarely bluff, I've started caving on some things. I always said I'd always quit doing Christmas cards (or holiday cards if you're more into PC terms) once Kiana was done with elementary. Still between friends and two out of the three household members outvoting me, I caved. It highlighted the big and little things. The wedding of course, that single commitment for the rest of my life. There is a nod to the hair that was such a fun conversation piece for a few months that will never occur again.  
It also highlighted my dog who a little over a month ago got attacked by an unleashed unnamed breed dog half a block from my house who got out of their backyard. I literally picked that 85 lb dog up by the collar and lifted both dogs because it was clenched so tight. I would end up putting my knees on its chest and squeezing it while pulling on its collar until it let go since it recognized who was the alpha dog out of the 3 in the fight. You can take a kid out of a rough neighborhood but you may not be able to take the rough neighborhood out of him. The vet ER bills are proportional to human ones but she's healing and that picture of her is actual during the healing process. She's about a month and a half away from turning 15 and she's had a rough year. I wonder how much time she has left more than I wonder how much I have left these days, something that's only been true for a couple of years now. I'll be there for her as long as she's got but we live in a house where scars get covered with hair and with hope. I dare dream that at the very least Elaine and I's ring bearer will make it to our 1 year anniversary. I've already got some high plans for that and well I hope she gets a treat out of it. 
I have a tradition of very rarely doing the same thing twice. My 1st world wonder back when I was 14 was Macchu Picchu but I did it almost entirely touristy with a bus on one day. This time a professor who invites me to speak invited me to hike and camp. It was still a little more glamorous camping than I like because you know my idea of good camping is when you pay lots of money to be homeless. Still, I'd taken my girlfriend/fiancee to 4 world wonders and now my wife and I have made it 5. However, it was all on foot including climbing above it. That last little section we left the great group and went up there on our own and for a fair second of the hike and a bit at the top, it was just us. And well, it's the only World Wonder, I've ever done twice, the only international trip I've ever done twice and we literally took it to a different level. Seems that anything that I thought wasn't in my future period or after cancer, ultras, marriage itself, repeating adventures, she keeps taking me to join her to a different level. 
The last picture on there is Kiana running on her cross country team meet. She continues to grow more independent, a beauty on some days and a problem on others, and a beautiful problem on several as well. She finally got a B in Jr High but took it in stride and as a challenge. She began playing ultimate as well and in her first clinic was definitely intimidated. When it was over, she was ready to go back. I don't know if it's fatherly love, pride or affectionate blindness but I really do think in both athleticism and intelligence, she's already ahead of where I was at her age and stage. Everything I've ever been a part of creating or raising I always hope makes me look like a joke by comparison and there's nothing or anyone who I've hoped that for more than her. And if she does it look like a joke, it's going to be the best dad joke ever and I'll be laughing the hardest. 
I'm still the president of the Austin Runners Club and we put in the biggest decker challenge of my stint and the biggest in a decade or so. I ran and won the 5k cause I really struggle to just be sidelines for an entire show. I saw we're like lights and sound but I try to sneak in a cameo like Stan Lee. Every year there are different stories out of all races and certainly the ones that we put on but my favorite one was someone who it took 3 tries before they could be successful at it. I had been the person who had told them that finishing the race was not a realistic goal two years ago. Kayleigh's mom was the best cheerleader as she's progressed over the last few years but I assure you I gave anyone who wanted the silver medal as a cheerleader some stiff competition. 
What was this blog about again? Oh yes, my Christmas card and brain cancer appointment with some slight nods to more court issues. I think in all of those situations, the song I've been listening to as I focus is the one this started one. That letting old ways die can be a very good thing, even if the old ways had good or bad things in them. Being open to the Universe and trying to bend it simultaneously are why I love life. 
Still, what got this writing going was the medical appointment last Friday. The doctor, like a lot of people noticed I'm a little thinner. That's primarily cause I wanted to look good in a wedding suit. I assure you now that the holiday parties keep happening I'm finding that weight. He had a new medical assistant, often the case as they seem to be studying for other things since he's a teacher doctor. My resting heart rate was incredibly low as usual. With new medical assistants in 8 years, it has always led to one of two reactions. Worry that my heart might be weak or questions about how much athletic activities I do. It has always been one or the other from anyone whose ever taken my pulse for the last few years. This new assistant didn't mention either but said, 'wow you must be very calm.' Without an MRI results there was, of course less to worry about. But then my neuro oncologist told me about how the mutation in my brain tumor there's possibility that instead of another brain surgery or chemo or radiation in a couple of years there may be a simple vaccine if this ever grows and it might attack the tumor cells (sometimes other people do but even with a damaged memory I never forget I still have brain cancer). I immediately asked if we could do it proactively and just get rid of the tumor now instead of when it grows. and he said that would be further away as with most cancer new treatments it's only done if and when a tumor is actively growing. I walked out thinking that maybe another one of those things I'd never do again, treatment if this grows, might also have to be revisited and fight with medicine not just with running down the line. I don't have an answer to that but I still try to remain serene about it all. Hope soothes my heart even if my brain is damaged.