Monday, June 30, 2008

Stop dragging those feet, Jesus!

My Aunt Alanna and I headed up to the race finish around 3PM on Saturday - or after 9 hours of running in Jorge-time. We got there just in time - he came jogging into the small aid station set up on the mountain trail just a few minutes after I got there. He didn't look too bad, all things considered.

Here is what Jorge had to say about the race when I asked how he kept himself going hour after hour.

"Well, it was hard. I prayed and prayed for the strength to carry on. I said 'Lord, will you help me get through this race?' And then I had a vision. It was Jesus. I said to him, 'Jesus, I prayed and prayed for you to help me. Where were you?' And Jesus told me 'My son, I was with you, giving you encouragement, supporting you and giving you strength for the first 12 miles. But you just picked too long of a race. That's on you, dude. I got tired and needed a piggyback ride after that. '"

So Jorge claims he carried Jesus, who he says is a tall guy, for 18 miles. That's his story and he's sticking to it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

What knuckleheaded thing is Jorge up to now?

I'm sure many of you have been asking yourself that question, no? After all, I haven't written much about my reckless, goofball husband lately.

Well, since you were wondering, I'll tell you. Today my husband is running in the "Old Gabe" 50K race through Montana's Bridger mountains. For those of you who are flummoxed by the metric system, 50K is a little over 30 miles. So a walk in the park, really.

In true Jorge fashion, he didn't think it was worth wasting a lot of time training for this race. His method is to run one long event once a month or so, showing up and hoping for the best. He has run very little over the last few months, but when he has, it's been all-out: a 50K race in Bellingham, Washington two months ago, and a marathon in Seattle at the beginning of June.

But this race is a whopper compared to those two. He has to run up mountains 4 times, gaining about 2,000 feet in elevation each time. Because of late snows, the course had to be changed at the last minute, because snow fields covered much of the course. Of course, the views will be amazing, but I'm pretty much expecting his legs to be useless tomorrow. So cross your fingers that my husband doesn't fall off some rocky crag today, and I will let you know how it all turns out!

Oh, and one of these days I must write about that 50-miler he did...that was a good story....

Friday, June 27, 2008

File under: "Humanity, Stupidity of"

Well, we've just had a great week in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, camping, hiking, and exploring. The parks are only just beginning to get busy, so we were lucky enough to spot a lot of animals before they wised up and figured out where all those pesky humans hang out.

The tally includes multiple bison (with babies) and elk, pelicans, osprey, marmots, two moose, three mountain goats, one black bear and six, count 'em SIX, grizzly bears.

The bears aren't really that tricky to spot. When you come across dozens of cars packed along the side of the road, you just look which way the tourist cameras are pointing. Most of the bears we saw were recently out of hibernation and foraging for food. Yesterday, however, we had a rather remarkable experience.

A handful of cars were parked by the side of the road so we slowed down to see what they were looking at. Jorge saw a bear in the distance, but by the time we got out to take a picture, it had moved on into the woods. We decided to turn up into the road nearby thinking the bears would cross in front eventually. And in front of us we saw a female grizzly with two cubs walking right through the middle of a very busy parking lot. And the scariest thing about this scenario? People were running along behind the bears, trying to catch a photo. Now, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure it's a bad idea to chase a baby bear when its mama is around.

There were already hundreds of people around, viewing nearby geysers, and plenty of cars as well. The bears, trying to escape the commotion, walked into a small wooded area that was surrounded on all sides by the lake, geysers, and cars full of camera-toting tourists.

There were two poor, frantic park rangers yelling at the people (with little success) to stay back. There were children around. People were frantic, trying to catch a glimpse (these were bears 4, 5, and 6 for us, so I guess we were a bit more nonchalant.) We actually saw one moronic woman walking into the wooded area where the bears were holed up. I kind of found myself wishing she'd get eaten just for being so stupid.

We drove on at that point, so I have no idea how it all worked out. But no glaring headlines about a silly woman who wandered into the woods and got herself eaten by a bear, so I guess there were no tourist kibbles after all. Shame. She really was asking for it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

People told me I was crazy to consider taking a road trip with a baby. They said, smugly, "just wait until you have the baby - you'll be too tired to travel." Or "It's a lot harder than you think."

I am happy to have added more evidence to my theory that people are just big fat whiners. We're 4 days into our trip to Montana and Yellowstone and having a great time. We drove 6 hours on Monday to Coeur d'Alene, then camped outside town. Tuesday we explored Northern Idaho and camped close to Missoula. On Wednesday we managed to catch a free concert series in the park in Missoula, which was great fun, then drove on to Bozeman, where my aunt lives.

Milo has been a champ. I usually sit in the back seat while Jorge drives so I can give him a bottle when he gets hungry. He has slept through most of the driving.

Jorge is loving it. It's his first camping trip and he's totally sold. He loves cooking over a fire, sleeping in a tent, packing up all the gear. At first we were both a bit dubious, though. We borrowed a bunch of camping equipment from friends and on the first night we dumped out the tent and all the poles and just looked at eachother as if to say "Do you think there's still time to find a motel?" But we managed to work it out in the end.

Jorge didn't really believe I had ever camped before - he thinks I'm much too spoiled. But I proved him wrong by the end of the second night, when I taught him the fine art of making s'mores. (The trick is to slowly roast the marshmallows until they are crispy and golden on the outside and melted through on the inside.)

Tomorrow we leave for Yellowstone for two nights. Updates to follow!

Monday, June 16, 2008

I will survive

Almost 5 years ago, I noticed a small lump in my neck. I told my then-fiance Jorge, "Dude, I think I have cancer." He laughed and said "you don't have cancer."

A couple months went by. The lump grew and was joined by another, then another. I was anxious, but hoped they would just go away, because my health insurance has expired when I graduated from my Masters program. Finally, I decided to bite the bullet and went to see the doctor.

You know something's up when the doctor calls in a favor to have you get your tests done the next day. First came the physical exams, then the blood tests, then the biopsies, with progressively bigger chunks of my body removed.

Waiting for the results of the last biopsy, the one that would tell if I truly did have cancer, I already knew what the results would be. For two days I cried; the tears just streamed steadily out of my eyes as if I had some sort of fistula of the tearduct. Jorge couldn't understand why I was upset. "You don't even know if there's something wrong," he said. "It might be nothing."

But I knew. And what scared me the most was that I may never have children, something I had always wanted and taken for granted. I couldn't imagine a life with no family. I feared that my soon-to-be husband would no longer want to be with me if I couldn't have kids. When the diagnosis came (and I was able to finally say "I told you so") it wasn't a shock at all, but I was far from resigned to a childless life. My doctor worked with me right from the start to try to preserve my fertility despite the chemo and radiation.

So when I say that my son is a blessing and a miracle, it is not merely a new parent's pride. I feel so lucky to be here today, with my beautiful son. I got to celebrate that fact last week, when I walked the survivor's lap at the "Relay for Life" fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. The only thing that dampened my joy in being able to walk that loop with Milo was knowing that my mom didn't make it to the survivor's team with me. She would have gotten a real kick out of it.

I've been told that 1 in 3 Americans would be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. My two sisters really owe me for taking that one for the team. ;-)

We leave tomorrow morning for a two week trip off to Montana, Yellowstone, and wherever else the wind (OK, the interstate) takes us. So expect lots of pictures soon!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Crummy weather, growing babies, and another visit

Today's newspaper had the following headline: "Colder than Siberia"

Turns out it's warmer in Siberia, Alaska, and Norway than it is in Seattle right now. We've had rain every day for two weeks now. I haven't been able to wear any of my new warm-weather clothing.

Seattle sucks, man.

Jorge is feeling bamboozled because I assured him that summers in Seattle are lovely, and would be much more comfortable than New Orleans. Instead we got an unseasonably cold spring, with snow in March, and now it looks like we are heading into an unseasonably cold summer as well. Sheesh.

Milo had a big day yesterday - he is 8 weeks old, and he got first round of shots! He's getting all of them, by the way - I do not buy into the whole vaccine-autism myth. There is not a single empirical study or any credible evidence to show that vaccines cause autism, people. As a child survival specialist, though, I know how many children die each year because they (or the people around them) aren't vaccinated - about 1.5 million in 2000, according to UNICEF. He was also weighed and measured. His stats are:

Length: 23 inches
Weight: 11 lb 8 oz

Our pediatrician told us he's a "perfect little boy" (just as I have always suspected, naturally) because all his measurements are at the 50th percentile, meaning right on average. Which makes me want to say "suck it!" to the two people last week who asked "how many days old" my son was. Fine, I know there are a lot of big babies these days (Milo is now just 14 ounces heavier than I was on the day I was born) but I was starting to get a complex about my son being a midget when it turns out he's perfectly normal. And my in-laws better stop calling him skinny now!

In other news, last week Jorge's brother Ed came out to visit. We had a very nice time, and even got one day of sun, when we went to Mt. Rainier (or simply "the mountain," as it's usually called here). Here are some pictures from his visit:

Still plenty of snow up at the mountain for this time of year. Look at Milo in the baby carrier - he makes me think of the kid in "A Christmas Story" after being so heavily clothed for the winter that he can hardly move his legs.
Ed enjoyed walking in the snow only 24 hours after leaving the sweltering heat of Louisiana.On a day that the weather forecasters predicted would be in the 70s and sunny, we went to the new Seattle sculpture park and froze our little bupkusses off. And this is Milo checking out the seafood at Pike Place Market.

Milo with his Uncle Ed.

We got passed by a rally downtown. Milo joined right in. I'm so proud of my little war-protesting baby!

Next up in our lives - we leave on Moday for two weeks of exploring Big Sky country!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The whole fat lady thing... really a disservice. Most opera singers are actually quite height-weight proportionate.

I tell you this because I am so very excited about what I just did: bought tickets to see Aida in August.

Perhaps this is a bit weird for a gen X/Y kid, but I love the opera. I love everything about going to the opera - the audience, obviously happy to be wearing their best fancy clothes, the excitement of hearing those first few notes as the orchestra begins to tune its instruments, the costumes, the tragic storylines, milling about in the intermission, the plush red carpet, and the audience yelling bravo at the end with emotion and candor - everything is so full of drama and glamour.

Oh, and of course, the music will send shivers down your spine.
Unfortunately, I have been prevented from going to the opera for many years now, either through pennilessness or lack of a local opera. The last time I went was in Budapest in 1998. The ticket was two dollars, and I sat so far back that I had a much better view of the chandelier than the stage. I loved it.

I was raised on opera. My mother sang in the chorus of the Seattle Opera, and I still remember those early pangs of separation anxiety as I waited for her to come home from her evening singing practices. My father got season tickets each year and us girls would take our turns being his date. At intermission we were allowed to go backstage to see mom and meet the leading lady, her face caked in scary pink rouge so that even the people in the cheap seats (that is, us) could see her. I loved the big towering wigs and trains and bustles of the costumes, and wished I could dress like an 18th century lady myself. These are cherished childhood memories, and I can't wait for that old thrill again. August is so far away!