In Loving Memory

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Andrea in June, 2018.

I had the chance to meet Andrea Battle Sims at Advocacy Day last year. She had been diagnosed and recovering from pancreatic cancer in 2015, but her cancer cell count was very high. She was a breast cancer survivor from 1994.

She was both an absolute delight and a trooper as we walked around Capitol Hill. She was such an accomplished and cool lady. Mom and I got her cell phone number and promised to stay in touch. I became friends with her on Facebook.

Both Andrea and I liked each others’ posts on Facebook, and did an okay job of keeping up, but I never got the chance to actually see her again.

In November, I reached out to her, to see if she wanted to get lunch after one of her chemo treatments over at Ahuja. We passed a few messages back and forth, but weren’t able to make it work.

Shortly after that, I (messily) left my job, spent time dealing with my own health and wellness issues, and focused getting my career restarted and my own life back on track.

Andrea and I never got to get together for lunch.

I know how gauche it is to make someone else’s tragedy about themselves, but I hope you’ll forgive me this one time. What I went through paled to what Andrea went through, and I should have done a better job trying to take her to lunch. I have major regrets about not following through. If the last 6 months were about me figuring out who I am, and who I want to be, then I must absolutely learn from this mistake, and try to never make it again.

I don’t know if any of Andrea’s family will be coming to Advocacy Day this year, but in addition to carrying both my uncle’s and my father’s pictures with me to The Capitol, I’ll be taking Andrea’s with me, too.

I reiterate my commitment to bring hope to a horrible situation: I promise that I will forever carry her memory and continue the work started when DadZ was diagnosed. I will work forever to make sure no other families will have to suffer the way ours have.

Tell the people in your life while they are here how much they mean to you. Be a good steward of your fellow man, and take care of them. Life is fragile and fleeting. Make the most of it.

In Loving Memory
Andrea Battle Sims

1957-2018

 

Charlie Wins the Race

Spoiler alert: Charlie did not actually win the Commit to be Fit 5K, but he did very, very well.

We missed the registration party the night before at the Hyatt, so Charlie and I woke up very early on Saturday morning so we could walk down to the registration area to get him his bib and commemorative shirt.

We negotiated with Mr. Shatner and got a room at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel, and oh. my. God. it was AMAZING.  There was part of both he and I thought about eschewing the race entirely and spending the whole morning decadently sleeping in a king-sized bed, eating room service, and enjoying an entirely-glass shower.

At any rate, we walked from the hotel to the site of the race, and it was a chilly morning, but good for running.  Hey, did you know that over 12,000 people registered for the three races?

I got Charlie herded into his corral about 20 minutes before the start of the 1/2 marathoners and stood on the small hill adjacent to the starting line.  As they launched the racers in waves, the next corral would move to the front.

I caught a glimpse of Charlie in the crowd as he was waiting to start, and we waved, but I lost him again in the sea of people.

As soon as they started the 5K, I went up and around the block to wait for Charlie to finish.  I wasn’t sure how long it would take him to get through the race: he’d been committed to run in the race for about four months, and training on the actual track for the last two.  He can really book it on a treadmill, but as I’ve found, running on the street is a lot harder than a treadmill.  I settled my tuchas in after the finish line, so that maybe he’d have a better chance in seeing me.

The first guy across the line was a gentleman from Columbus who finished his 1/2 marathon in barely over an hour.  The second guy across the finish line was a 5K runner who finished in an amazing (to me, at least) 18 minutes!

A little later, I watched a father/son team cross the finish line together: the son could not have been any more than nine! When his dad scooped him up into a big hug and said, “Way to go!” everyone in the crowd cheered hard and loud.

But where was Charlie?  Would he come across the finish line alone?  Would be be in a big clot of people, and would I miss him?  What if I didn’t get to see him finish?

He arrived in what seemed like no time at all.  26 minutes and 31 seconds later, Charlie crossed the finish line, a big smile on his face.  While he was smiling his face off, I was cheering mine off.

I don’t have a picture of him crossing the finish line; but luckily there are about 9 different official photos of him finishing.  I hugged him when I finally skipped through a few barriers (you can’t fence me in/out); and it was worth the sweaty smear.

In addition, we ran into one of his dear friends from his first job in Mansfield, whose wife was running in the 1/2 marathon (she did fabulously, too).  I snapped this picture of them together, and plan on sending a framed copy to him once I order prints.

Charlie’s official numbers, for the 5K stats:

  • 26:31 finish time
  • 93/1240 all runners in the 5K
  • 72/437 men running the race
  • 13/64 in his age group
I am so proud of him!
He is now training for the 1/4 marathon, because he “wants a bigger medal next year.”

NaBloPoMo’10: Travel Time

I don’t get to spend a lot of couple time with The Boy, and we get to spend even less time going on vacations together.  We do our best to take mini-adventures, but the last time we set aside time to go on vacation by ourselves was in 2006 when we went to Mammoth Caves (sorry, I have no electronic pics to commemorate the trip – besides, I had The Worst Haircut in the World, and wouldn’t want to have it on the internetz forever, anyway).

I also laugh that we don’t travel well.  Somehow, we always end up bickering about something along the way that leads me to frantically texting, "OMG, I think I might kill him.  Meet me on OH23 in Franklin County and bring a shovel."

My favorite story is the time when we still smoked, and decided to drive down to Columbus for Yule in a blizzard, and I went to flick my cigarette out the window, but it bounced back into the car, forcing The Boy to pull over – in a blizzard – opened the passenger door without saying a word, looked for the smoldering ember, flicked the butt on the side of the snow-covered highway, sat me back in the car, and pulled back onto the blizzardy highway…all without goon-handing me or screaming.

That, my friends, is true love.  I knew in that moment, that even when I was totally trife, he would still make sure I was trundled safely back in the vehicle, instead of forcibly amputating me at the knee with a car door.

I’m pretty sure he cursed his way around the car to get me, and all the way back around after he tucked me back in.

But I treasure our travel time together.  I’ve recently taken to finding audio books (David Sedaris on both of our recent trips) that we can listen to, which helps the time pass and keeps the, "OMG, stop breathing at me" arguments down to a minimum.  This weekend, we spent 370 miles listening to David Sedaris tell us stories through major cities and small towns.  Sometimes, I would look out the window and watch the rolling hills of farmhouses.  Part of the way, I rested my head on The Boy’s forearm, rolling my fingers in his, trying not to drool on his upholstery when I dozed off.  Most of the time, I wondered what it was like to live in the different towns we drove through.

We stopped outside of Jeffersonville at the Flying J travel plaza on Saturday evening on our way to see The Brothers-and-Sister-in-Law for their Halloween party (which was amazing, and when I get the pictures, I will post them).  We each got a slice of pizza and bottle of juice, and ate in his truck.  Though we were heading south, the weather was still getting colder, and The Boy bitterly complained that we had skipped straight into winter.

On our way in, I snapped this picture of him using the Retro Camera app on my phone.  I got him to pose a little for it, for which I am grateful.

It is by far my favorite picture of The Boy in the eight years we have been together.  Between his expression and the under-exposed edges, it  sums up everything I love when I’m traveling with him.

Vintage

And with that, welcome to NaBloPoMo’10.

Keep Calm, Carry On

I did not watch a lot of Conan, before or while he was on The Tonight Show, but I think his ousting really stank.  It shows that even celebrity players get the messy end of the shit stick occasionally.

I think that the theme “sometimes, you get screwed, hard – and through no fault of your own” gives me some comfort – at least it seems pretty universal, as opposed to just happening to me, or in my line of work.

What made me a huge fan of Conan O’Brien was part of his exit speech as he left.  I have definitely internalized these words and his sentiment.

Without further ado:

“All I ask of you, especially young people . . . is one thing. Please don’t be cynical,” O’Brien said. “I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.”

The “In” Crowd

I had an odd experience happen to me in grade school that has affected my “need to fit in” when in a group setting.

I have always been classified as weird, which is an adjective I do take pride in now, but in grade school, I couldn’t wear it quite as the badge of honor that I do know.  Of course, being labeled as “weird” in grade school meant 8 years of being ignored or persecuted for the most part.

I’ve largely gotten over this: I’ve been enough of a leader in high school, college, and now in my career that people accept that I’m a little goofy, but largely a good person to like and to know.  For the most part, I’ve been able to ignore those who don’t care for me and am able to coexist nicely.

In sixth grade, we had a new girl who moved to town, who was quickly absorbed by the Populars – sat near them in classes, had companions during recess and lunch, guaranteed dates to middle school dances – someone to be a part of the clique.  Her popularity itself didn’t surprise me too much, she really was of the “type” (wealthy and vapid); but what unsettle me was how readily-accepted she was.

Then again, I had established myself as weird pretty early in the game.

At any rate, I cornered one of the Populars in the bathroom one afternoon (my only real stand against the status quo through those long years of grade school) and I asked her, “Why does [New Girl] get to sit with you at lunch, hang with you at recess? How do I get to be a part of your group? How do you let people in?”

I think the Popular I cornered was pretty shocked that I had even bothered to talk to her, much less ask a question of great importance.  After floundering for words for a moment, replied coolly, “You can talk to us.  You can sit with us at lunch.  You can talk to us on the phone.”

Even then I knew it was all bullshit.  Effectively, I would have to skin a sheep, wear it on my back into the flock, and hope no one noticed my salivating-for-popularity chops until I was accepted.  I had no intention of putting myself out there for their approval and acceptance; they already had enough made-up ammunition in their persecution of me, why give them anything concrete?

And just like that, the exchange was over.  The Populars never had anything to fear, thinking and waiting for me to try and wedge myself into their clique.  And I returned to my books and my occasional friend, ultimately shaping myself into who I am today.

I think of that incident today because I’m thinking of cliques as they exist in the adult world.  I just realize that not everyone gets to be readily-accepted to every social group that they float through in life.  This realization might crush some people.  I still sleep relatively well at night, because the people who do let me in to their group are the ones I really want to be with.

I just don’t have time to wonder how much cooler it would be to be a part of a group that clearly doesn’t need me.