Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Peace out, 2014...

Do I really need to emphasize what a tricky year it's been?
Nah.
After everything we've been through in the past twelve months, I'm certain we are stronger and can handle whatever is thrown at us.
Thank god for my amazing parents, husband, friends, and family.
Thank god for my brother, who could have given up and chosen a much less positive path in his current situation.
Thank god the year is winding down and we have our health and we are still here.
2014 was a rough one, perhaps the most difficult yet...but, this year wasn't without its great moments, too.
I've changed.
I'm still the same.
I am strong.
I'm not afraid to admit when I need some help (that's a new one) and I'm good at pushing through.
So, it hasn't been all bad.
I sure wish Mare was still here to clink glasses of Prosecco with later tonight, but I am okay without her (because I do still have her, if not in the flesh).
Resolutions suck, but I do resolve to appreciate and honor the past and as always,
Only move forward.

Happy New Year...wishing you health & happiness in 2015.

Monday, December 22, 2014

damn (guess I saw this coming)

Inevitably, I've hit the holiday wall just days before Christmas.
Not surprisingly, I'm kind of in a funk.
Yesterday, Maeve turned two and during our very small, very low-key gathering for cake, I pretty much crumbled inside.
I wanted the noise and chatter to stop, I wanted my house empty, and I wanted to never hear "MINE MINE MINE" until 2015 (at least).
Selfishly, I just wanted to sleep.
Wow, how scrooge-y and awful does that sound?
We're lucky enough to have awesome people who want to come and share birthday celebrations with our children and all I could think was make it stop?
What the f*ck is wrong with me?

I'm tired.
I haven't been outside nearly enough (and let's not touch on how painfully little I've been breaking a sweat in the name of a vigorous run or ride), I'm feeling the weight of my mom's absence big time this week, I'm behind on adult responsibilities, I'm stuck in the all too familiar rut of waking nightly at 2 only to fall back asleep, oh, four hours later...
In short, I'm just plain fried.

I have 3 days to get my shit together and conjure up some holiday cheer for our kids.

I'm sure this is all normal, right?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

here I am...

(I know, I know...my legions of adoring fans have been positively LOST without my typically prolific blog posts)

Well, here I am.
Last month, I scored a part-time job to earn some extra cash for the holidays (and, admittedly, I felt like a distraction would help me deal with Christmastime without my mom).
What I didn't expect was to enjoy said job...I thought I was done with retail (so so so done), but here I am folding clothes/zipping jackets/greeting customers/extolling the virtues of goose down/sweeping floors/suggesting gifts to beleaguered husbands/trying on coats for moms who are buying for their similarly sized daughters/exchanging banter and cookies with coworkers...
In short, I love it.
And I'm staying beyond the holidays because they want me to.
So, yay!
I already got my crying-at-place-of-employment out of the way, following a minor fender bender on my way to work (my fault, totally totally my fault)...so, that's always a great ice breaker during one's first full day on the job, right?
Nothing like showing up twenty minutes late, blotchy and red-faced, apologizing tearfully while simultaneously introducung oneself to other staff members.
"Hi, I'm Kim...I just rear-ended a painfully nice woman on my way to work and ruined all her cookie trays for her grandson's baptism. Sorry I'm late. I'm an ugly crier, my face will look less like...this, soon. I promise."
Between that and surviving Black Friday, I think I can handle anything retail throws at me this time around.
This job has been such a healthy diversion from the gray bleakness that has been looming since before Thanksgiving.
While I've been doing well and feeling so much better, I really miss my mom right now and all her enthusiasm about the holidays.
I see moms shopping with or for their daughters all day long and listen to them with an even mix of wistfulness and envy.
I loved Christmas shopping with my mom.
It's been nearly six months since she died and some days I catch myself feeling guilty for feeling so good, for moving on, for not being consumed with grief anymore (which is ridiculous, because I know my mom would wholeheartedly want me to feel good).
So, while I'm having many more good days than bad, I still feel that wave of homesickness/loss/sadness usually when it's least expected and least appropriate.
I know I'm not the only one feeling this and I am surrounded by so much kindness and love from friends and family...those who randomly check in for no reason other than to say, "you're in my thoughts, here for you" even now, six months later.
That's why I'm having more good days than bad.

I am looking forward to Christmas.
I'm excited to be carrying on my mom's Christmas breakfast tradition (and will be drinking Prosecco in her honor alongside the popovers), I'm excited to watch the kids come downstairs and gasp at the tree, I'm excited for Christmas dinner with my aunt and cousins, I'm excited to fill my husband's stocking with a heartfelt note and his favorite candy...it's going to be fine, it's going to be good.

Here I am.
Blogging/writing a lot less, but still showing up when the urge moves me...still needing/enjoying this outlet and still appreciating every one who checks in (all nine of you).
Thank you for sticking around.
xo

Friday, December 5, 2014

What I haven't blogged about...

Our wonderful Thanksgiving thanks to my favorite cousin.
Quitting Facebook (strangely, I don't feel like I am missing out on anything).
Perfecting my brownie recipe.
My new job (part-time & I love it).
Max's tenth birthday.
Maeve's upcoming second birthday.
Me being emotional about my firstborn turning double digits.
Painting my kitchen yellow, at last.
Reading a hilarious book (Night Terrors).
Not riding.
Running a little bit.
Wishing my best friend lived closer.
Winter (it's coming).
My mom (lately, I just miss the everyday chatter, stopping over for a cup of tea).
My dad (doing well, thanks for asking).
My husband (not riding, either).
Returning to cyclocross on a whim and remembering why it's important to me.
(And in turn,) Realizing what is important to me.


That's what I haven't been blogging about lately.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

DOC on caller ID

My brother called tonight.
I miss him.
He's looking forward to his Thanksgiving jail meal (and hoping he can trade his pumpkin pie for more turkey or mashed potatoes).
I just wish he was here to miss our mom with me...nobody else knew her as a mom like me & Rob did.
We're really good at reminiscing and we really appreciate all things nostalgic (much to the chagrin of anyone unfortunate enough to get stuck listening to us riff on our childhood or bounce inside jokes off each other).
Anyway.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.
My cousin has graciously invited us to join them (and I may have accepted a little too eagerly, but hey...)
Give thanks.
xo



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Epic (an adjective I try not to abuse; in this instance, totally appropriate)

Sunday night, my dad & I saw Stevie Wonder perform Songs in the Key of Life live in its entirety...followed by an encore including a medley of his other gems, ending with an 8 minute version of "Superstition."
I counted 21 musicians/singers onstage at one point (and Stevie Wonder graciously gave each member props by name, including his daughter/backup singer, Aisha).
Somehow, in spite of the vastness of the venue and huge crowd, it felt like an intimate perfomance.
Mind. Blown.
I can't do the experience justice with my words, so I'll just wrap it up:
I feel so lucky to have been in the presence of greatness, one of my idols from as far back as I can remember. Every song was a gift and each gift revealed something better and better.
Being at that concert was like being a kid on the the very best Christmas Day EVER; surprises and goose bumps and wishes fulfilled.
Seriously, life-changing, no exaggeration.
3 days later and I'm still buzzed.






Saturday, November 8, 2014

Halloween happened (quite a while ago, but...)



Ahhhhhhhh...to be a kid, right?
Those two really keep me going.
When I wanted to bag the holiday altogether (I didn't even carve a pumpkin this year), the kids got me back in the groove.

What else happened, besides Halloween?
Rides happened. 
In the woods, mostly...explored some unfamiliar trails close to home. Worth exploring some more. Such fun to ride somewhere new & different just a few miles away.
And...
I took the kids to visit my brother.
Rob was expecting me and our dad, but the kids were a surprise.
I'd been reluctant to make the trek up there, for no good reason, really. 
I guess something about a whole day spent away from my little pack to see my brother in yet another correctional institution was holding me back, making me anxious.
I miss him, though, so I got over myself and packed a day's worth of snacks/diapers/distractions/music/kid stuff and away we went to Coal Township.
It went down like this:
After a little over two hours in the car (and only one misstep; those last 5 miles are confusing), we briefly stretched our legs and began the visiting process:
Show ID, place all belongings other than vending card in locker, remove all jewelry/belts/shoes, walk through metal detector, extend hands (palms down, then up) for narcotics swipe/scan, turn pockets inside out, lift shirt enough to show back pockets & waistband, hurriedly put belt & shoes back on, wait...
Wait.
Walk down endless corridor to visiting area (already, I'm more at ease here...it's cleaner, there are mountains outside beyond the razor wire...you can see mountains!).
My dad tells Max it's called concertina wire...coiled like an accordion, thus the name. Even Max is somewhat unphased by the process, as he had visited my brother in County.
We reach the visiting room at last and my eyes meet my brother's.
His face becomes flush with happiness and for a second, tears well in his eyes, when he sees my children. Then, that smile.
Right there...worth the anxiety & perceived hassle of traveling with young kids to a prison two hours from home in remote coal country.
Seeing his face light up...worth it.
Our visit commences.
My son and my brother catch up over Fritos and strawberry pop tarts as my dad and I take turns wrangling Maeve.
Maeve hasn't seen her uncle since last December, just as she was taking her first steps.
I'd take her to the phone visits at the county jail because "lap children" (non-walkers) weren't required to be on the list for non-contact visits.
She'd smile and wave and put her hands up to the glass as I leaned close to the phone to talk.
It didn't take long at all for her to warm up to Rob nearly a year later.
As we were leaving (after two hours of talking and hanging out), Maeve reached for Rob to pick her up.
"Yahhhhp?!" (loosely translated- "pick me up")
He obliged and she leaned into him and kissed his cheek.
I can't wait for her to know him, to hear what he can do with a guitar, to spend time somewhere not wrapped in scary concertina wire, to see him in something other than a jumpsuit.

But, yeah...very good visit.
Coal Township is my brother's "home" prison for the next three years.
No more classification or bouncing around...
I spoke to him tonight and he sounded eager to do his thing tomorrow at the prison talent show.
He used to kill it at Battle of the Bands when we were kids and that's exactly the excitement I could hear in his voice, eager to perform in front of a crowd.
Man, I really miss hearing him play.

So, that's what has happened.
I'm feeling much better.
I feel like the fog has lifted enough to move forward with a little more confidence, a lot less sadness.
Some days are better than others, but isn't that how it goes no matter what?
My dad reminded me that my mom wouldn't want me to continue to be so upset.
Initially, I sort of bristled at that sentiment...I was thinking huh? So, like, just stop being depressed? Does he think I don't need to go to therapy anymore?? Don't be upset? Huh?? 
Clearly, that's not what he meant.
I get it and he's right.
And I'm not letting the grief consume me or inform my every move.
I'm just adapting, I guess.
(and still seeing a psychotherapist, which is something I should have been doing for a while, not just in the wake of my mom's death, for what it's worth...)

It's 2:27am.
The scary noise (seemingly) from the basement that woke me an hour and a half ago was probably the heat pump or the pipes or who knows what...(massive spider? Intruder? Zombie? Chupacabra? vampire??)
Just a noise and I need sleep desperately.
Freaking full moon making everyone act all crazy and has my imagination running wild...
Well, the fact that I basically had a churro and a giant coconut milkshake (seriously, the straw was almost as tall as my daughter) for dinner probably isn't helping matters, either.
Peace out/good night.


{sigh}





Sunday, October 26, 2014

back at it (part II)...backing off

I haven't been moved to blog/write much lately, but was inspired (at 3:30am, no less) by fellow blogger, Angie, to get back at it. (Angie is the Bikinator...I used to read her blog and think, "Wow, who is this woman? Every ride is a race?? Really??" I was bemused by her take-no-prisoners approach to training and racing and similarly, her seemingly boastful style of blogging. But you know what? She set some pretty hardcore goals for herself and did everything she could to meet and exceed those goals in a relatively short period of time. I have nothing but huge respect for her and it's been exciting to see the evolution of her blog. One of the nicest people I've ever had the privilege to line up with, Angie has truly earned the moniker Bikinator).

Anyway.
Last Sunday, I raced close to home at the West Chester Cross Classic at Rustin High School. As a spectator at this venue two years ago (when I was pregnant with Maeve), I watched the competition longingly thinking this is my kind of course...can't wait to get back at it!
Despite finishing in the back of the pack, I had such a great time on that course (which I can best describe as super flowy with the perfect balance of challenging, yet subtle elevation changes and just enough recovery to maintain energy and enthusiasm on every lap, if that even makes sense).
Although I haven't been training for this season and have only been riding once a week at best, all the little nuances of racing cross feel familiar and comfortable to me (you know, except for the part where I'm grossly out of race form and hanging on by a mere thread from the get-go).  
Surprisingly, I have felt nothing but calm and relaxed while staging and waiting for that whistle...
Surprisingly, I've been relieved to start in the last row...
I'm just having fun with it.
Racing is fun when I have nothing to prove to myself or anybody else (conversely, racing is fun in an entirely different sense of the word when I am kicking ass and ripping legs off, but I'm pretty sure those days are behind me for now).

Having said all that, I was all set to show up at Crossasurus Awesome this weekend and keep up my "racing" streak; however, I woke up today feeling especially sh*tty with a sore throat and body aches.
No need to push through, as there are still plenty of races left on the calendar in the coming months.

I've been running and dabbling in a little strength training more than I've been riding.
At this stage of the game, I'm happy to squeeze in whatever kind of workout I can between kid stuff/grownup stuff/life...stuff.
In short, breaking a sweat is more about preserving my mental health than gaining fitness right now.
I'm feeling much better.
I still think about the loss of my mom every day, but I am not wallowing in my grief.
My dad reminded me that my mom wouldn't want me to be consumed by this or to be so upset by her death.
He's right.

As for therapy and medication, I've accepted that I do need a little help and probably always will to some degree.
I am depressed and I do have serious anxiety issues.
Not because my mom died or because my brother is in jail or because crazy sh*t is happening in the world...
With the understanding that there are biological/genetic/chemical pieces to my "puzzle", that my depression and anxiety are not just situational (although my situation as of late has certainly exacerbated those issues...duh), I can handle it better.
Or more willingly.
(or something)
All this to say, to reiterate, I'm feeling much better.

Wow, if that's not a rambling, narcissistic update, I don't know what is...

   
look, mom, I'm "racing"! Photo courtesy of Dennis Smith from Whirlybird 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Back at it (cross)

I have no pictures to share from Whirlybird (you don't really need to see my muddy race number or a gratuitous shot of a Nutella-drenched post-race waffle, do you?)...
I don't have much of a race report to share, either.
It (the race/my race) went down quite predictably, all things considered (haven't raced cross in three years, have downgraded to Cat 3, riding once a week at best, blah blah blah...):
Lined up in the last row.
Didn't experience any jitters or nerves.
Clipped in and just went when the whistle blew.
Passed a handful of women, duked it out with some really fast & wily juniors (young enough to be my kids), got muddy, stayed upright, and doggedly dug in for a solid forty-five minutes.
Upon finishing, I soft-pedaled around the wet grass with a goofy smile on my face...it felt really, really good to be back.

I had kind of given up on any notions of racing cross this year...it hasn't really been in the cards what with a myriad of reasons/excuses (I'm broke, I haven't trained at all, I'm barely riding, all my energy is devoted to my kids/therapy/staying afloat).
Still, a spark was lit whenever my dad talked about his race, whenever I saw a little cyclocross action on my Facebook feed, whenever I saw my cross steed hanging dejectedly among all the other bikes I don't ride these days.
When I got the official okay to downgrade (not just "okay"...a get-back-out-there-and-enjoy-it okay), I figured why not?
So, last Friday night I packed up my gear (and then packed doubles of everything, knowing a wet race was forecasted) and went to bed thinking, "I'm waking up early to race."
At 3am, a steady rain woke me...I imagined the muddy preview of the course, hurriedly changing into dry gear, shivering and soaked on the starting grid...Admittedly, none of that sounded remotely appealing to me and I went back to sleep wondering if I'd have a change of heart come morning.
Well, morning came and I burrowed into my warm blanket as the rain fell, thinking, "Staying in bed would be the easy thing to do."
I didn't want to do the easy thing.
So I raced.
Out of shape, out of sorts, out of my comfort zone (I find I barely have a comfort zone lately, anyway).
It was awesome and it breathed a little life back into me, which is really all I could have hoped for.
A win, in my book, even toward the back of the pack.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mom...

Dear Mom,
Today you should be turning 61, but you are no longer with us (here, in the flesh, at least).
I feel your presence and see you in my dreams (and I'm sorry I was short with you in that dream last night)...
I wake up some mornings anticipating seeing you, as if we have plans.
I reach for the phone and catch myself...you won't answer it, you're not here/there.
Duh.
Luckily, I heard you laugh and speak and sing for 39 years.
Long enough to remember, long enough to have those sounds ingrained within me.
Yet...not long enough.
I miss you, mom.
I wish things had turned out differently & I wish we were celebrating another birthday with you.
But.
Here we are. 
We'll share a Delirium in your honor and we will keep remembering. xo
With love,
Kim


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Perspective

A member of my local Mom's Group lost her baby girl yesterday at twenty weeks.
So, yeah, September hasn't been my best month, but I'm done bitching about my "troubles."
I'm going to ease out of September gently...
I'm going to start over, slowly, next month and try harder to recognize and honor all the things I am grateful for.

I see single track, miles of trails littered with acorns in my near future.
And.
Halloween costumes for two blessedly healthy kids.
Pumpkinpalooza.
Eating my weight in candy corn.
Campfires in the back yard.
Cider donuts.
Jumping into giant piles of leaves with my kids...
(Sike...that last one freaks me out...all those spiders and sh*t)

Perspective. Working on it.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Not ready for All the Fun...

Went to an end-of-summer BBQ tonight with Bill and Max.
In spite of all the friendly faces and festivities, I felt like a complete outsider.
I've never felt so disconnected from everything and everybody.
I feel safe and comfortable amongst my own little tribe/family, but the moment I step out of that bubble, I'm a mess.
Exiting a party like a ninja ("ghosting", I believe, is what it's called) is my signature move no matter the mood or occasion and tonight was no exception...
The difference is, I didn't quite feel like I was even really there in the first place.
I'm sure I made small talk and exchanged pleasantries...
I'm (fairly) sure I didn't make an ass of myself...
But, I felt like the words coming out of my  (very sober) mouth were coming from somebody else.
Feeling this way is a fucking nightmare.
Yesterday, I discovered my pharmacy made a pretty drastic error with my medication and now I'm paying the price.
I know I'll get through this, hopefully without any serious implications, but right now it sucks and I don't even want to have fun.

Wtf, indeed...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mad at myself

This morning, I had every intention of riding my bike to my therapy appointment.
New tires on my cross bike.
Fresh Stans (thanks, Bill).
Gear laid out, at the ready, the night before.
As for the weather today? Perfect.
What is my deal??
Instead of riding, I headed out (in my car), stopped for coffee and found myself sitting on a park bench with a half hour to kill.
It's not even like I don't get quiet time to myself like that...
Daily, I have a decent chunk of time while my little one naps to do nothing, if that's what I need.
Lately, I feel paralyzed...stuck, whenever I have the opportunity to ride/run/enjoy the glorious weather we've been having.
No doubt, I'll be kicking myself come the freezing, gray days of winter...
Kicking myself for wasting this time.

I seriously need to get over this because moving/going hard (or even going easy...but, at least going in some capacity) is probably exactly what I need to rid myself of this feeling.

I think I'm still relatively fit.
If anything, I've lost weight this past month in spite of my sloth-like behavior.
So, yeah...
I'm mad at myself for this.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Music

One of my earliest memories:
Me, sitting on the faded green director's chair in front of my dad's stereo, headphones perched on my curly mop, listening to Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" on vinyl...

My dad is taking me to see Songs in the Key of Life performed live by Mr. Stevie Wonder in November.
To say I'm excited would be an understatement.
I've been jonesing to see/hear some live music & I can only imagine what a treat this will be...

Thanks, BP, for instilling your deep love of music in me...what a gift.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Coffee with my mom

This morning, as I gleefully bounded up the stairs for my annual, umm, "female" exam (yes, "gleefully" is sarcastic), I had a surprising recollection of my mom accompanying to this office a few years ago. 
While I'm usually inclined to not share my doctor appointments with an audience, I asked my mom to join me for a routine scheduled ultrasound at 9 weeks (or thereabouts) pregnant.
I remember the joyful tears in her eyes as we watched the teeny tiny beating heart up on the big flat screen in the dim room.
I am so thankful to have shared that experience with her.

So.
After my appointment, I stopped in town for an iced coffee and brought it to the cemetery.
I laid out a blanket at the foot of my mom's grave and recounted (out loud) that day to her...the nerves and excitement that I had felt, the fact that I was so glad she had been there by my side.
I told her how Maeve points to the pictures of "Grammy" on our kitchen wall and leans over to kiss them/her.
I told her about my challenging ride in the humid woods with my dad last night.
I told her about the excitement in my brother's voice when he called to tell me about his audition for the upcoming prison talent show.
I told her about Max easing into fourth grade with a renewed confidence (or as Max would say, "swagger"...I know).
I told her about the pit I feel in my stomach, the ache in my heart, every time I think about her upcoming 61st birthday (9/30)...how I'll bake her a cake and we'll celebrate "with" her.

With my coffee finished and our conversation over, I sat in silence and soaked up the sunshine and perfect breeze.

I've said it before, but having my mom's final resting place so close to home brings me immense comfort.

I miss her every. single. day.
We're so fortunate to have such a beautiful place nearby to visit and reflect.

I see many more coffee dates with Mare in my future.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday stuff...

On Cyclocross:
I spent the better part of this morning's therapy appointment talking about racing (particularly, cross). I haven't raced cross since...2011? That was a while ago.
2014 was to be my big comeback (and I say that somewhat in jest, as the last time I raced, my results and attitude were less than stellar).
As luck would have it, my summer and training went to shit after a chain of unexpected events and I've reconciled with that.
It's fine.
Cross can wait (or can it??)...will Granogue be back next year? {sigh}
I've always been encouraged/impressed/motivated by the fact that women can (and do, indeed) get stronger with age within this sport.
So, yay, for that, as I'm not getting any younger.
Maybe my best years of racing are still ahead of me.
Maybe I've peaked and will find myself downgrading and hanging on just for fun...
Maybe maybe maybe...time will tell.
I thought about going up to Nittany, cowbell in hand,  to watch my dad and peers race tomorrow, to ring in the new season as a spectator and supporter.
Maybe.
That's that.

Yesterday:
Max got on the school bus and I took Maeve for her first dip in the Brandywine.
Exploring the river was one of my favorite things to do with Max when he was her age (20 months now...holy shit) and as it turns out, the excitement of the river is every bit as joyous for my little girl.
As soon as we reached the rocky little shore, she bounded right into the shallow water, clapping and smiling and repeating, "yay" and "wow!"
We held hands and waded downstream until the water reached her belly, then we turned around and threw stones and chased leaves.
It made for a fun and tiring morning.
Also...
As I buckled Maeve back into her carseat after our little adventure, I had a distinctly strong vision/recollection of my mom in that same parking lot, summer of 2012.
I was pregnant with Maeve and had wrapped up a kayak outing with my dad...I remember my mom watching, waving from the trail adjacent to the parking lot as we heaved the boats back to her car.
"Any calamities?" She joked.
I almost didn't tell her about dumping myself into the drink, getting tangled and bruised during a fruitless battle with a tree and some rushing water.
Of course, I told her, though and of course she was like, "Kimberly!!"
These little recollections and reflections make me smile and laugh, especially the ones that may have otherwise been buried in the innocuous recesses of my memory.

Today:  
It's Friday.
The MAC kicks off another season this year.
Shit happens.
Good luck, MAC brothers & sisters...kick some goddamn cross ass.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

So it begins...

The school year has commenced after a summer fraught with its share of huge downs, but plenty of ups, too.
I must admit, I'm feeling positive about Max starting fourth grade.
Last year was a challenge and I was not my best what with multiple hospital stays, the stress of a newly incarcerated sibling, etc etc etc...
Time to get organized and begin a new chapter.
While it won't be the same without my mom sitting on her front step, excited to hear about his first day, I know Max has countless great memories and a special place in his heart for his beloved Grammy.
Moving on...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

In the thick of it, yet...

It's been a good week.
I feel like I'm adjusting to the meds, therapy has been productive, and I've been spending most of our mornings exploring the woods with my kids.
I've been on my bike a few times and have felt strong (enough), though more cautious/tentative than usual.
On the other hand, I've been a little bit of a recluse other than spending time with my family.
I've been really good at making plans/inviting people over only to cancel or bail almost immediately thereafter.
I'm not feeling like much of a social creature these days, but I know that will pass.
I have moments of extreme numbness, almost a state of depersonalization.
Again, I know it's normal, all things considered, yet it doesn't make it any easier.
I miss my mom immensely.
Sometimes, more so recently, I experience this overwhelming physical sense of loss and homesickness...
I think of my mom and the fact that I'll never see her alive again, never hear her voice, never have her in the passenger seat of my car grooving to whatever song comes up on shuffle, never taste her home made tortillas (mine just don't compare), never have her walk down to the bus stop with me to greet Max after school, never go out for an impromptu breakfast, never enjoy browsing through Anthropologie or having her insist on buying me something cute to wear, never see her beam with pride and delight every time Maeve would lean in for a kiss...
Never never never.
I have all these vivid, amazing memories and I have all these tokens/totems/things that belonged to her, but I don't have her.
I talked to her every day and I still talk to her, but she doesn't talk back...
For that, I'm sad.
I know how lucky I am to have a tirelessly supportive and loving husband.
Healthy children.
A dad who cares deeply.
Countless friends, cousins, family members to lean on.
I know this and quite literally count these blessings every day.
I have no doubt that I'll get through this and the pain will ease over time; however, I am having a hard time understanding everything right now.

Still, it's been a good week and I haven't lost sight of that...
The good.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Good

Last night was the first time I dreamed about my mom since she passed...
It was so nice to hear her voice and be with her.
Today, I had more energy than I've had since the day she died.
Thanks, mom.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

the good and the bad

Yesterday I met two friends at White Clay for a little exploration on our cross bikes...
I'm so thankful to have found my place within a community that shares a common thread; quite simply the love of the ride.
I haven't felt like being on my bike, I haven't found much solace in the act of moving lately...on foot, on two wheels, at all.
I needed to be coaxed out of my funk, if only for a few hours, to move with the power of my own body...
to puzzle out my worries and despair in the woods among the company of good people.
I found myself enjoying and remembering the strength in my legs and my lungs.
It felt good.
I felt good.

Predictably, today, I found myself way back down.
Like, way way back down.
I encouraged Bill to get out for a few hours on his bike, as he's been doing nothing but taking care of me, taking care of us. Tirelessly and without complaint.
"Go ride, I'll be fine."
Moments after he left, I looked at our daughter and thought, "how do I do this?"
We busied ourselves with Sesame Street and Legos and story books.
I can handle that.
I can read The Shape of My Heart and Corduroy's Busy Day all day long.
I felt bad when she grabbed her sandals and headed to the front door, "Side! Side?" {outside}
"Not right now...it's drizzling. Maybe later."
In truth, I usually love to take her out in the rain, but I just didn't have the energy. Or the interest.
I hate being this way when it comes to my kids because I feel like I am ripping them off.

Bill came home, Maeve was no worse for the wear, and I had managed to avoid any tears myself.
Phew.
Doing this.

This evening, after dinner, I drove to the cemetery alone.
I sat at the foot of my mom's grave and talked to her.
I read "The Owl & The Pussycat," to her (my mom's favorite childhood poem).
I asked her questions and apologized for being a mess.
I pleaded, "please come see me in my dreams sometime..."

Her final resting place is such a serene, beautiful spot.
As I drove away, playing one of her favorite songs in my car with the windows down, a tiny fawn made its way across the path from behind a tree.
Healthy, young, and alive.
It made me smile.
   
  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

a breakdown of sorts...

Several months before my mom passed away, I decided it would be in my best interest (and my family's best interest) if I sought help for some feelings of depression that I had been experiencing.
I told my husband that I was thinking of talking to a therapist, that I needed to work through some stuff that had been building...that an inexplicable sadness was overtaking me, overwhelming me.
I am no stranger to these feelings, yet I have always struggled with reaching out for help.
I've become quite "good" at pushing through and sucking it up...
I've become quite good at recognizing depression within myself, yet I've often tricked myself into thinking a series of hard rides or challenging runs or a stint in the yoga studio will absolve me of depression.
While those "tools" are certainly helpful and healthy outlets, those strategies aren't always enough on their own.
I kept putting off seeing a therapist. I continued to ride/run/move...busy myself with my kids...busy myself with tasks and activities.
Distractions.
Then, my mom died and the distractions felt like work.
My kids and my husband were getting the worst of me and I knew it was time to make the dreaded call.
I began seeing a therapist weekly and shortly thereafter began taking a low dose antidepressant under the care of my family doctor.
I felt better knowing I was moving in a healthier direction.
I have limited experience with antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds; I have taken them in the short term over the years and realize they are something I will likely need sometimes throughout my life to pull me out of times like this. When the sadness is bigger than me. When the sadness robs me of things that normally bring me comfort and joy.
I do regret, wholeheartedly, never having talked to my mom about this because she struggled with depression, herself.
The difference is, she never hid it from us.
I was always afraid to share my own struggles with her because I didn't want to burden her.
I didn't want her to consider for one second that it could be remotely her fault in some way, as depression has genetic components and runs in families (and wow, was/is it rampant in her family).
That's ridiculous, right??
I know she wouldn't have judged me, I know she could have offered some insight...we could have commiserated. My mom was such a compassionate, understanding woman...I could talk to her about anything, but was always so afraid of disappointing her (or either of my parents for that matter...remember when it took me nearly six MONTHS to tell them I was getting divorced?? I can almost laugh about that now...)
She would have done anything to help me.
I know that.

I never talked to either of my parents, or really anyone close to me about my anxiety or depression.
I touched on it during bad bouts of insomnia or when I was going through my divorce...but, I never said the word. I never admitted that I was diagnosed or had any treatment.
Part of me was afraid it would be dismissed as me not being able to handle my shit...again, ridiculous, right?
As a parent myself, I want my children to know they don't have to hide anything from me and that if they need help, I will never judge or question it or assume that they just can't cope with rough times.
My sadness, my depression, is not circumstantial or reactionary.
It comes and goes in inexplicable waves; sometimes it hits hardest when everything is in place, when everything is fine.

This time, I happened to be in the midst of it when my mom died...
So, yeah, the timing sucked.
I've been dutifully taking my meds (adjusting to my meds, which is always a challenge) and seeing my therapist.
I'd been feeling productive...functioning.
Then, Sunday night, I had a breakdown of sorts.

I woke up at midnight (per the norm) feeling extremely agitated and anxious (not the norm). 
While I've spent many nights over the past six or so weeks not sleeping through the night, this was a completely different and hopeless feeling.
I felt more panicked and rage-y than I'd ever felt.
I woke Bill and upon describing what I was feeling, it seemed as though I was talking about somebody else.
I felt scared, distrustful, paranoid...
I couldn't discern what was real and what was a dream...
Physically, I was sweating and shaky.
Mostly, I was just frightened and wanted to escape or hide...in short, I felt...crazed.
By Monday morning, I wouldn't leave my bed.
I know there were phone calls to my family doctor and my therapist. Much of Sunday night was a blur and I continued to just lay in bed...staring out the window.
Ignoring the sounds of my kids starting their day.
I left my bed to take a bath and use the bathroom and spent the rest of the day and night hiding from my family in my room.

Tuesday night, at the urging of my doctor, Bill took me to see a psychiatrist.
We talked about some background information.
We talked about my "history"...about my family...about my mom's death...about my brother.
"What do you hope to get out of this?"  he asked.
"I just...want to be able to function more fully to better take care of myself and my kids."

I know there is no quick fix.
As we walked out of his office, I couldn't help feeling defeated knowing I would still be the same the next morning. And the morning after that. And so on...
That's the hardest part.
There are times when bad shit happens and I can just put one foot in front of the other, face the day, do what needs to be done...move forward.
This time, it is bigger than me, though.
If I could put one foot in front of the other, face the day, do what needs to be done...move forward...
I would.

I asked Bill, in frustration, "What makes me not able to just get through something without all this 'help', without all these concessions? How come some people don't 'have' this?"
He said, "That's like asking why all people don't look the same."


I've been here before and I'll be here again...
and the best thing to have come out of this is that I don't feel like it's something I need to hide anymore.



   
   

    

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Awww, Maeve

I just sneezed and she said, "bless you," clear as a bell (well, clear to me).
The words are just spilling out of her little mouth like crazy these days.
19 months is such a curious, exciting age.


Monday, July 21, 2014

so it goes

We spent last week in Ocean City, New Jersey (the seashore of my childhood) with my dad.
What was supposed to be a long-awaited family vacation with all of us turned out to be a well-timed distraction and diversion following my mom's passing.
Although the week was fraught with some rough spots (mainly sleepless nights due to Maeve's ear infection), we fell into an easy rhythm of hot donuts in the morning, days spent on the beach, and nights on the boardwalk or sitting on the deck as the sun went down.

Reality hit hard this morning as Bill went back to work and I faced a heavy case of the Mondays on my own with the kids.
(you'll rarely hear me complain about Monday as a stay-at-home mom...trust me, I love this full time gig more than any "job" I've ever had)
This is week four.
Week one was a blur of arrangements and duties that needed to be carried out.
Week two was collecting myself and getting back into our regular groove, with Max at day camp and plenty of trouble for me and Maeve to get into together.
Week three was our family vacation. Though bittersweet without my mom, I really did my best to be present and just enjoy my kids and give them a fun escape.
Week four is now.
Week four has started out on a low note.
Maeve had a horrendous night, as I am guessing the antibiotics are taking a toll on her system and she woke up wailing and flailing every fifteen to twenty minutes.
Ugly.
At 4:55am, my alarm (needlessly) roused me (I'd hardly slept anyway) for the Spinning class I've been teaching twice a week since February.
This was my first class back since my mom died and I'd been wholeheartedly dreading it, almost to the point of full blown panic.
Something about enthusiastically commanding a room packed with strangers first thing in the morning scared the shit out of me now.
Reluctantly, I showed up, went through the motions and lied, "It's great to be back. Breaking a sweat with you guys definitely helps."
I think I'm done with that.
We'll see...

Bill left for work as the sun came up and from there I pretty much lost it.
As Maeve blessedly, finally slept for a bit, I cowered in my room, sobbing uncontrollably and wondering how I'd get through today.
Max asked, "Is it because of Grammy?"
"Yes. I'm just really sad today."
And confused and angry and bewildered and lonely and frustrated and really, REALLY tired...

After a long shower, I got the kids ready and took them to breakfast.
We ate outside and Maeve, the mayor of West Chester, cheerfully waved to each and every passerby and pointed to every truck.
Max had a bowl of cereal and "double bacon" while I drank coffee and pushed the eggs around my plate like a petulant child.
Now what??

After breakfast, we stopped at the cemetery to say hi to Grammy.
Maeve bounded right up to her grave and started waving emphatically, which Max obviously got a kick out of and we were both like, "Awwwww..."
We straightened up the little birdhouses that sit alongside the rock that serves as a temporary marker and made our way down the path, stopping to pick some raspberries (relax, the berries weren't anywhere near sacred ground) and marvel at some of the really old headstones.

And that was that.
I mean, that's what we do on a typical summer Monday morning when nothing is on our agenda...
We have breakfast and go see Grammy.
Just like always.

I didn't even think of it that way until we were on our way back home.  
 

      


  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

what happened anyway? (and two weeks later)

I kind of feel the need to say what happened, as far as why my mom died.
She was admitted to the hospital on Monday June 23rd for a seemingly innocuous (though, serious) infection.
She went from sitting up, looking cute and joking with the nurses streaming in and out of her room about being "such a pain in the ass," to being flown to the Hospital at the University of Penn Thursday afternoon as her condition worsened.
On Thursday, the doctors insisted my dad go home and get some rest, as the next few days were expected to be a bit rough.
Again, her condition was serious, but not necessarily critical. We were told to "remain positive."
2am Friday night/ morning, my dad was called and alerted to the fact that my mom's heart rate had spiked and her blood pressure was continuing to drop.
By 3am on  Friday, my dad and I were in her room on the 9th floor at Penn after a quiet, nervous drive into the city.
I was struck by the vast array of monitors, equipment and countless bags of fluid hooked up to my mom.
I was struck by the number of doctors and nurses constantly assessing my mom, confounded by how quickly the infection was ravaging her system.
We were told she was the sickest patient on the unit.
Mostly, I was struck by my mom's appearance.
Just days before, she had been wide eyed and alert.
Now, she was unconscious; heavily sedated, intubated, "sleeping" to the hum of a dialysis machine and ventilator.
On rounds that morning, I sat in as the team of specialists, residents, and all manner of medical personnel conferred about my mom.
We called upon some family members (mostly her brothers and sister, my aunt, and my best friend) urging them to come see my mom, though at that point it didn't seem or feel like we should (or would) be holding vigil at her bedside, willing her to hang on and turn a corner.
I called Graterford Prison that morning and explained the situation to somebody who would hopefully get in touch with my brother sooner rather than later.
I pleaded, "It's quite serious. Please, please let him call my mom."  

Around 9am, my mom was relieved of some of the sedation and she opened her eyes.
Unable to speak because of the breathing tube, she held my hand and my dad and I encouraged her to be tough, be strong.
I lied, sensing the worst, "Rob is on his way, mom."
She was getting sicker, quite literally, by the minute.

By 11am, the head doctor (Anoop, who was easily younger than me and so incredibly compassionate), explained to us that my mom would succumb to cardiac arrest at any time.
Not if. When.
Essentially, she was on life support and at that point we needed to make the decision to let her go peacefully and without pain.
I don't mean for any of this to sound clinical or cold.
These are the facts and I just feel the need to explain it and remember it, fully.
Everything had progressed (degraded, I guess is the better choice of word) so quickly and I just couldn't believe my dad and I were faced with making that unimaginable decision, together, in that moment.

I never said goodbye, I never said, "it's okay to let go," or any of that bullshit, because quite honestly,
it wasn't okay to let go.
It was such a short and fierce fight and my mom was not ready to die.
All I could do was say I loved her and to just relax. I didn't want her to be scared.

My dad and I were together with her the whole time.
As the nurse, Priscilla, deftly and quietly removed the tubes and tape and silenced the monitors, I just laid my head by mom's side and felt her cool skin (she was hypothermic due to such low blood pressure).
It wasn't long at all that she took her last breath upon being taken off life support, which gave me some strange measure of relief.
Relief knowing it was the best thing we could do for her because clearly she wasn't coming back from this awful, awful ordeal.
My dad spoke to her the entire time and I know she didn't feel alone.

The prison chaplain let my brother call, but it was a half hour too late.
My mom had already passed and my dad held the phone up to her ear and Rob talked.

My mom was not sickly.
I've had a hard time reconciling the well meaning sentiment, "She's no longer suffering, take comfort in that..." because she wasn't suffering, she hadn't been sick.
Certainly not sick enough through any of this that her death was so imminent.
It all happened so shockingly quickly.

My mom was diagnosed with Hepatitis almost fifteen years ago.
She recently completed a new regimen of medication that finally cured her.
The virus was gone from her system and her liver was showing signs of improvement.
Over the years, she had fought the illness and in the end, actually beat it.
Back in May, my mom received a magnesium infusion under the advisement of one her specialists who had been closely following her labs.
After that infusion, my mom was hospitalized for an infection (possibly in her stomach, though never confirmed).
The month between that incident and this most recent event left her tired and wanting desperately to bounce back and get on with life.
My heart aches knowing she had so much more left to do and look forward to.

So, that's what happened (disjointed little back story and all).
My mom had not been "sick"; her death had nothing to do with liver failure or (directly, at least) the Hepatitis.
Again, a stupid, persistent infection likely resistant from that stupid infusion back in May.
If anything, maybe her situation will help save somebody else from this tragic outcome.

My mom was young and witty and goofy and beautiful.
In short, just the best.

Yesterday marked two weeks since her death.
Mostly, it still doesn't feel real to me.
Part of me still believes she's going to call me (and I'll be in the shower, like so many mornings, and she'll leave that same message, "It's just me, Talk to you sooooon.")...

I'm sad that my kids don't have their Grammy anymore, that Maeve won't get to grow up with her and that Max lost one of his best, best buddies.

I'm sad that it's not Bob & Mare anymore...I mean, not in the flesh.
Bob and Mare Bob and Mare Bob and Mare...all my life.

I just miss her. 




 


        


Friday, July 4, 2014

Already one week

This time last week, I was holding my mom's hand as the morphine drip started.
How has it been a week already?
We laid her to rest yesterday, following the most beautiful celebration of her life and our life with her.
I woke up this morning and felt sad...maybe the saddest I have felt all week.
I grabbed my running shoes and made my way over to Downingtown's Good Neighbor Day with Bill & Maeve.
My mom was a runner for a long time when I was a kid.
Not a "runner" like me, she was legit.
I've never ran more than 5 miles, but I knew I could finish the 10k today, tired legs and all.
It felt good to sweat it all out and move.
For the last mile, I just imagined myself breathing in all her youthful energy. 
(which obviously made me burst into tears not a minute after crossing the finish line...I'm sure anyone around me was thinking, "wow, that's a lot of emotion for a 10k").

Oh, mom, I hope I gave you a good laugh today.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

And...

I've been waking up every morning before dawn this week, not knowing what do with myself.
In a blur, 5am becomes almost 7 and I'm still sitting on my porch just listening and watching everything wake up around me...

I'm trying to steel myself for tomorrow.
I want to try my hardest to say something, share a few words at her memorial...

And breathe.

Monday, June 30, 2014

How we do...

In a cruel twist of fate, it sounds like my brother will not be able to attend our mom's funeral this Thursday.
For reasons I can't even begin to comprehend, let alone hash out here, he's stuck.
We were doing okay, moving forward, taking care of everything, taking care of each other; this, though, is just beyond soul crushing.
My dad and I had to unplug for a bit late this afternoon in light of this turn of events, so we got on our bikes and made our way over to the trails.
We talked and rode and sweated it out...

I just keep thinking, I don't have these grandiose words of wisdom that my mom ever shared with me, but she taught me everything I need to know by example.
How to be a mom.
And a wife.
And a friend. 
And a daughter.
And a sister...
She lived it so beautifully and selflessly, through and through. 
I'm just so thankful that there are no lingering questions, no regrets.
What we had was just easy.

I know she'd want us to get out there and just hammer away on our bikes in the woods together.

So we did.



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hi, Mom...

Last night, hanging out around a big fire in our backyard with my dad and some of my very best friends, we heard an odd noise coming from behind us...
"Chair squeaking?"
"Nahhh, I think it's coming from those trees."
They went over to investigate, as the sound became more persistent, a bit more audible.
I heard my friend say, "it's a screech owl, look up there."
Well, I'll be damned.
And as I made my way over, still hearing that funny little screech, I could see it clearly on the limb, even in the dark night sky.
As we gathered under the tree, the owl gently & swiftly swooped to another branch as if to say, "yep, I am an owl, look at me, I'm here..."
Nobody had to say it, because they all know me & we all thought the same thing , we all got it, in that moment.

I watched and waited and then not a minute later, the owl took flight again and made it's way across the sky.

In all my years here, all the nights spent hanging out in the back yard, listening and watching for critters, all the fires we've had, I've never heard or seen anything quite like that. Not a tiny little owl, not so close to us and certainly not so insistent...come see  what I am...

Anyone who knows me, knows my love of owls, the most beautiful and badass birds of prey. 

If that's not a sign right there, I don't know what is...

Friday, June 27, 2014

june 27 12:44pm

My mom left us this afternoon...quite suddenly, unexpectedly.
My dad and I were with her, she wasn't alone
(and we weren't alone).
I feel numb and maybe don't even fully believe it yet...

I wish my brother was here.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bad Blogger (take 2)

I haven't felt compelled to write lately...
I know this blog will be right here when the urge moves me, but for now, I'm kind of over it and need a little break.
Mostly, I'm just busy with the kids.
Things happen  (hysterical things, sad things, amazing things, ordinary things) and I want to share, but with my son getting older,  I feel the need to respect his privacy; no matter how few people actually read this blog, I still need to be careful about what kind of footprint I leave with regards to my kids on the internet.

I think I'm going to race next weekend (Neshaminy), but the last time I got all psyched up about a mountain bike race (Ramsey's Revenge), I ended up nursing a spinal headache following a (diagnostic) lumbar puncture.
(so, did I just jinx myself mentioning my intention to get my ass back in gear and race again soon? Probably)
See?? See what happens when I check in here?
Now I'm just rambling...

 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bad Blogger

I'm just...busy.
(I mean, who's not??)
A few things (maybe I'll expound on them at a later date, but probably not):
I was starting to worry about Maeve not talking (because Max was speaking full sentences at 14 months and had a vast vocabulary at Maeve's age and OBVIOUSLY we should all compare our children developmentally to their siblings, right? Ugh, Kim, you went to school for this shit...really)
Well, I'm not so worried anymore because she sure likes to say "No" about six dozen times every hour (except it sounds more like "Ny-oh ny-oh."
She also says "cheese", "daddy" (for her daddy and no offense to Bill, just about every other object and person right now), "hi" (a very emphatic "HA!" accompanied by an enthusiastic wave) and "dinosaur" (doh-doh-DUH).
So, we are communicating with a handful of actual words now and it's adorable and exciting and I'm like, "dinosaur?! really??"

What else?
It's June, so the countdown is on for summer vacation and I can't wait for third grade to be over. It hasn't been the greatest for so many reasons; let's just put it to rest already. Jeez.

What else?
We finally watched "Her" last night. 
I love Spike Jonze and I loved this creepy/eerie/relevant/funny/timely movie.

That's all I got.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I know how I'll be spending my Saturday night...

My dad showed up this afternoon with a turntable for me...it's time to amp up my vinyl collection and I could not be happier!
(For my second birthday, my dad gave me a legit record player and he's done an excellent job of imparting his love of great music to both of his kids)...thanks, BP!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

On the Rocks at French Creek 2014 presented by TBR (Cat 2 Women U40)

French Creek is undoubtedly my favorite place to ride and probably the closest thing I'd consider to be my  "home course."
While last year, my goal was to merely "have fun and finish in one piece," this year, I wanted a top ten result and to simply try/ride harder. 
{goal realized, by the way}
Although the park took quite a beating during a pretty serious storm the week leading up to the race, our team pulled together in true TBR fashion to put on a stellar event last Saturday.
Ron managed to mindfully string together a very challenging, yet flow-y loop which included a paved stretch and some gravel sections without compromising the vibe that makes French Creek French Creek (rocks, tricky descents, rocks, hard climbs, rocks, rocks, and...rocks).
{well done, Ron Harding, well done...}
Two laps of said course left me feeling exactly how I want to feel after a mountain bike race; physically depleted, yet completely stoked about the experience.

Shortly after I wrapped up my race, I stood by anxiously as Bill found his way to the start for his first race this year (first race in quite some time).
Sometimes, my nerves are even stronger watching him on the line and this race was no exception.
{side note: I was surprisingly relatively calm as I staged at Iron Hill and French Creek...maybe it's from years of racing the MASS, maybe it's because I know where I fall within these ranks right now, thus alleviating a lot of that pressure...maybe I'm more confident as rider...maybe I'm just getting older/wiser and finally realize those nerves are just a huge, huge waste of energy?}
Anyway.
After watching Bill take off (confidently...aaaaaaand fast), I had to head home to relieve our babysitter.
Not surprisingly, Bill ended up 11th in Open Pro and I was so happy that he had a great race and respectable result (hey, I know Bill...I know what matters to him and what he expects of himself out there).  
So, yeah...
On the Rocks 2014 made for a pretty good day for both Showers.
And a very good day for Trestle Bridge Racing. 




Special thanks to Kathleen Harding, Todd Strauss, and Hannah Johnston for being at the helm of our race and organizing a great event.

Also, thanks to the Rob Perna band (minus Rob Perna because he's...in jail) for keeping the woods extra funky with live music.


   

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Iron Hill mountain bike race 2014

awkwardly (yet, giddily) navigating the gully by Kita Roberts
photo credit Bill White

photo credit Bill Showers
The top photo says it all and certainly better than I can convey with words.
All smiles. All mud.
While I realize and accept that I'm not the fastest right now, I am excited to be learning and picking up subtle nuances about handling my bike and the trails every time I race.
Season after season (and sometimes skipping a season here or there).
Even now, eleven (?) years since my first race, there are still plenty of skills to sharpen and plenty of room for improvement.
I love mountain biking and I still love mountain bike racing.
Although I wasn't in contention by any stretch of the imagination, I turned it up as best I could toward the end of the second lap, giving everything I had, in order to make it to the kid's race in time to see my son take off.
"Just have fun and don't be a jerk if you pass somebody," were the only words of wisdom I could summon as I caught him at the line.
Later that evening, a friend reminded me that's pretty solid advice for just about anything in life.



    
 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Killing Floor

I visited my brother at Graterford SCI on Thursday with my dad.
That particular institution makes county jail look like the goddamn Ritz Carlton.
For a prison that houses 4,000 (!) inmates, you'd think there'd be enough manpower to make the visitation cubicle a little more...humane?
I'm not exaggerating when I say I felt like I stepped into a third world country from the moment we walked through the doors.
Every surface is dirty and in shambles; everywhere you look, something is broken, damaged, and falling apart.
All I can do is thank god that he is only there for the classification process and hope hope hope that things begin to look up when he is finally placed at his "home prison."
(I know, right?)
The visit was unnerving and definitely left me...rattled.
I mean, the facility itself was kind of shocking (I was prepared for bad), but it was my brother's tone and demeanor that really got to me.
I hate to see him so frustrated and bitter.
Since his incarceration in October, I've been so proud of the way he has carried himself forward every single day (getting a job, earning respect from the COs and fellow inmates, staying involved with his son in every possible way despite the very limited opportunities to do so, keeping in touch with his family and friends, still influencing his band, and mostly just keeping an incredibly positive attitude).
This transition is undoubtedly taking a toll on him and I'm sure it is part of the process, just another piece of the big picture, but it's unnerving nonetheless.
He won't be able to see his son until the next move (to yet another state facility for more classification/processing), which could still be another month or even two.
Phone privileges are virtually non-existent (something like 8 phones per 400 inmates, with a pretty small window with which to make calls).
On the upside, he's rocking some pretty fresh prison-issue leather boots (and fashioned some makeshift shower shoes from the insoles) and he'll be purchasing an AM/FM radio from commissary this week.
What he really needs is a guitar...
That day seriously can't come soon enough.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Day 5 (Whole 30)

Welp...I bonked hard while deep-cleaning my kitchen and I'm down 5lbs.
Pretty sure there was cake in my dream last night.
Other than that, it's fiiiiiiiiine.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

I know I've said this all before...

I'm still afraid to go downhill fast.

(admitting the problem is the first step, right?)

The thing is, I think I am finally okay with that...
I don't think I will ever be comfortable pushing myself much further in that realm.
As I chugged along at the back of the group today at French Creek, I wasn't thinking much; I was swatting away an occasional mosquito, marvelling at the perfect perfect weather and doing other non-thinking things on my bike like pedaling, keeping my head up, and picking lines...
In other words, just doing my thing.
I'm pretty grateful to be healthy now and out doing my thing.
Sometimes that means back of the pack (not always, for sure, but for now...it's fiiiiiiine).

That's all.
Wait, that's not all.
Completely unrelated.
I want to chop my hair off again, like super-short.



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

on to the next one...

Last Wednesday, my brother was transferred to state prison.
It's now been a week since we last spoke and in a letter I received from him yesterday, my brother said it could still be a few more weeks before we can talk or visit.
During his nearly six months in county prison, Rob was able to earn the respect and friendship of his fellow inmates; he helped create artwork and greeting cards for prisoners to send to their kids and families and he also worked a double shift, daily, in laundry (earning what amounts to, literally,  pocket change for you and me). He found his place in the ranks and managed to hold his head high for the entire duration in county.
I hope...I hope I hope I hope this part of the process finds him safe and well.
From what I understand, this particular prison is rather prehistoric and the classification process sounds daunting.
Bill rode his bike out there yesterday during his lunch break, compelled to catch a glimpse of the compound (and I suppose, in his way, as a show of support to his brother in law) and told me it looks intense.
Well, yeah...
I mean, state prison.
No joke.

Anyway, this blackout period without any communication has been rough (no doubt, most difficult for my nephew), as I've talked to Rob nearly every day (sometimes several times a day) for the past six months.

The letter was written on scraps from envelopes, as he doesn't have plain paper yet, and he said, "this sucks and it's filled with second-hand smoke. Luckily, I am getting my asthma inhaler soon."
Also, "8 phones for 800 inmates. Letters would really help because it's prehistoric in here. Tell everyone I am on to the next chapter and thankful for all the support thus far..."

Oh, Rob.
How did it get this far?

So, here we are...
On to the next one.
New routines and procedures to learn and get used to.
New protocols, new rules, new phone accounts, new ID number, new address.
And I'm sure as soon as we get accustomed to this, he'll be moved yet again for the next step in classification, then finally on to his home prison.
Hopefully not terribly far away (though, likely...terribly far away).

  

 

 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

singlespeedapalooza: a race report (of sorts)

We signed up for this race on a whim, in the thick of Polar Vortex number three (I don't know, I lost count).
Never mind that we spent little to no time on our bikes all. winter. long.
Every now and then, Max would remind us, "You guys aren't practicing for that race you signed up for," or, "Shouldn't you guys be practicing a lot more for that race coming up soon?"
Or if Singlespeedapalooza came up in casual conversation, Max would chime in, "Oh, you mean that race that neither of you are practicing for?"
Thanks, Max.
*also, I like how he's replaced "training" with "practicing"...
Anyway.
Conversations about Singlespeedapalooza covered all the important pre-race minutiae; what snacks are we packing for the road? What are we making for dinner the night before? Where can we score some really good chocolate covered almonds? Should I pack flip-flops and shorts for post-race hangout? 
Never mind what gear are you running? Is my bike in decent shape? I wonder what conditions are like...
Yeah.
As we packed and organized our supplies (most notably, those very important road trip snacks), Bill had the best idea I've heard in perhaps forever (only slight exaggeration).
"Let's just ride it together."


Ultimately, that's exactly what we did...
Somewhere around the three mile mark, I found my man waiting patiently and from there, we took turns leading each other through the twisty, rolling trails of Stewart State Forest.
It's a rare treat to ride together at all these days, let alone on unfamiliar trails far from home for hours at a time.
It was too perfect an opportunity to pass up.
And it really was a perfect day on the bike in the woods with my husband.

Now we can think about getting in shape for some racing...
The days are longer, I am finally off all the meds (all. the. meds), and we are both itching to get back into it.

(calm down; Bill didn't "pace me" or interfere with the women's race; by the time I "caught" him, I was already in the back of the pack and held that same position til the end, not advancing past any women. We didn't race; we rode...and the results clearly reflect that. ) 

 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

the hay is in the barn ....and my barn has maybe, like, one bale right now

After a winter of lackluster efforts on the bike (like, do two trainer "rides" count? and maybe a few jaunts on the flat path? errrrr...), I'm a little less than excited to wear my lungs on the outside of my body this coming weekend at Singlespeed A Palooza  .
(what does that even mean? I fully expect be puking up various vital organs along the way, maybe I can tuck my lungs into my jersey pockets somewhere along mile thirteen?)
Sadly (okay, laughably), I can literally count on ONE hand how many times I've been on a real bike outdoors since February.
Why I signed up for this race is beyond me (okay, not entirely...I love the trails at Stewart State Forest, I love the opportunity to escape for a night with my husband, I love the idea of a little road trip to NY with our friends and teammates...oh, and there's got to be a first race of the season, so why wait?).
Why not?

So, "why not?" is going to have to suffice and see me through those miles and miles and miles and miles...and then, it's going to have to see me through those further miles and miles and miles when my hips start to ache and I'm cursing myself for being such a baby about riding in the cold this year.
I'm sure for the first forty-five minutes, I'll feel like a goddamn rock star; if I'm smart, I'll temper that a little bit so I'm not in tears if when I cross the finish line.
Anyway.
Why not?
I miss riding, I miss racing.
It might not be pretty, but I know I can do this and hopefully even have a little bit of fun along the way.
   
 

 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Snaps

So, it's April. Some days have even felt like spring. Here are a few snaps to prove it:


Yesterday I took my little girl to the orchard. We spent an hour waving to the goats, eating cider donuts, and exploring the (falling apart) playground. 
We're spending more time outside lately and she is so happy about that.
Happy to point at every bird, wave at any and every passerby, smile and laugh just because the breeze is blowing...
I mean, I just get such a kick out of her.
And when the two kids are together, playing outside? Even better.

 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

one of those days

It's probably PMS or the fact that we were up in the middle of the night on baby (toddler?) puke patrol, but I'm watching the season finale of Girls and bawling my eyes out after a brief conversation with my brother.

Ugh.

(the baby/toddler is napping and seems better and I should probably nap, too)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

phone visit

Thursdays are phone visits at Chester County Prison.
This is what happens:

Check in with the Corrections Officer at the front desk with your picture ID, hand over your keys and receive a plastic numbered chip much like a coat check (I end up with 58 pretty often, maybe I should play that number?) , walk through the metal detector (BEEP!- just my belt), grab a Lysol wipe from the container bolted to the wall, walk through another steel door, and find an open phone bank.
Situate yourself at the phone (much like you may expect, there is bulletproof glass in front of you and Formica partitions on either side).
To the left, is an archaic payphone...take your Lysol wipe and dutifully wipe down the phone and every surface in your small area, including the small stainless steel stool that you may sit on.
Have a seat, stare straight ahead and wait for your loved one to come through the door on the other side of the glass.
(I always end up at phone #13...I sit and stare and try to catch a glimpse whenever an inmate comes through the door of what is on the other side. All I can see is more concrete block wall, painted pale yellow)
As you wait, sometimes a visitor next to you makes small talk. Maybe you chat about the endless winter or the weather today...maybe you just fiddle with your plastic chip or license, as you have nothing else on your person.
When your loved one comes through the door, they must check in with the CO and then find their visitor among the banks of phones.
Your loved one has a seat, you pick up the phones and are told to press one for English and dos for Espanol; you hear a message about calls being monitored and your visit commences.
For thirty minutes, you talk with your loved one...at first, you feel weird and awkward talking on the phone face-to-face, maybe you avert your eyes and glance at the sign behind them about calls being recorded except for those to their attorney.
You hear snippets of the conversations on either side of you, as visitors begin their calls with their loved ones.
You watch other inmates file in and try not to stare, but curiosity makes you observe their haircut, tattoos, whether or not they are wearing plastic rosary beads, if they are fit or pale or smiling or stern...
And, because it's prison, you can't help but wonder why they are there. For how long?
Soon, the din around you fades and so does that initial pang of awkwardness.
As you talk to your loved one, you completely forget all the things that other family members trusted you to relay or pass on (crap! I was supposed to tell you so-and-so said blah blah blah)...
Instead, you forget about the grimy old payphone and the glass partition and you fall into a totally natural, comfortable normal conversation.
At the twenty-seven minute mark, you are given a three minute warning...your head spins a little, trying to remember if there is anything really important you're supposed to say.
You continue to chat, but that's halted again with a two minute warning.
Fastidiously, you remember a piece of information that you promised so-and-so you'd share with your loved one (phew!).
With the one minute warning, all the other inmates and theirs visitors come back into focus a little bit...the buzz and drone of fifteen other simultaneous conversations becomes suddenly apparent.
You say goodbye, talk to you soon.
As you hang up your phone, your loved one also gets up from their seat...you both walk in the same direction.
You reach for the door, to exit, while your loved one signs off on their visit with the CO on the other side of the glass.
As you step out the door, you throw your hand up for one more hasty wave goodbye, but you don't look back.

You hand your plastic chip to the CO at the visitor desk and retrieve your car keys.
There is nothing else to do, except say, "Thanks, have a nice day," and leave the prison.
The visit is over.

          
 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

hey, what's up?

What's up? Not much in the blogging department, that's for sure.
I've sat down to write so many times and freeze up, so I close the window and walk away.
If you've stuck around or have checked in despite the fact that this space hasn't grown or evolved in a long time, I thank you.
Time is moving too fast lately.
Our daughter turns fifteen months this week and our son is nearly as tall as me.
My brother has served almost six months of his sentence (a sentence which was reduced by eighteen months last week)...I have a lot on mind, a lot to say about that and I don't have the energy to delve into that right now.
What else?
I got a job.
A small gig that earns little more than what amounts to pocket money, but I'm getting paid to motivate a room full of people on stationary Spinning bikes. I did this a long time ago and really enjoyed the challenge and the interaction, so it's kind of exciting to me. And, free gym membership...HOLLA.
I'm tired.
I think about my brother and his situation all the time.
Also.
My son is having some struggles at school and I'm having a hard time navigating that process (another post for another day, but long story short, it involves forms and data and vague references to ADD and...yeah).
It's been a brutal winter and I just need it to be over.
A long day of warmth and sunshine is all I want. 


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sunny

It's a beautiful day and I rode my bike outside for two hours.
Glorious, as expected.
That is all...

(My high is wearing off and approaching hangry in a hurry)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Remember riding outside?

Everybody's in the same miserable boat (well, most of us here in my general neck of the literal woods are)...
In the thick of this unrelenting, brutally brutal winter.
One nasty hit after another.
Then another.
I just can't get with my trainer...I've put in a negligible amount of time on that soul-sucking road to nowhere and I doubt those half-assed workouts are going to serve me very well when I'm on actual trails or pavement.
It's okay.
Soon (I mean, winter will end...the snow will melt, the trails will get dry), I'll be on a bike that's not fixed to a trainer or planted in the middle of an indoor cycling "studio."
I'll be on my bike (yay) and it will be so. much. fun.
Probably more fun than I can handle.
You guys, it's going to be crazy and fucking glorious when we get those first few dry, warm, sunny days on hardpack dirt. 
Remember riding outside like that?
It's going to be awesome and it's going to be awesome {kind of} soon...
Hang in there.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Taco toast

"So, Max made his own toast this morning. I noticed the cumin was on the counter next to the sugar. He used cumin, instead of cinnamon. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to make him feel bad," Bill said.
"Ewwww! Did he eat it?!"
"Every last bite."

Honest mistake (if your sense of smell isn't too keen)...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

what the F*CK Juan Pablo?!

I can't believe Renee got sent home.
Why make her go all the way back to Miami for the stupid rose ceremony?
He said he wouldn't do that to her, that he wouldn't take time away from her son if he knew she wasn't the one.
I don't even care who he ends up with, but that was such a douche-y move.

Yes, I watch/am obsessed with the Bachelor (the show, not the bachelor himself...ewww to both, but super-ewww to JP).
This drivel had me stress-eating ice cream last night.
You are better off, Renee... 

I only have a few guilty pleasures...this is probably the guiltiest of them all.
I mean, I stopped wearing orange Crocs a long time ago...

  
 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

coping

Guess what? It snowed again last night...
Let's just {emphatically} say I don't love shoveling anymore.
While I haven't been riding my bike at all, I have found some new coping strategies and this winter can, quite frankly, eat a dick.
Riding has been replaced with:
  • karaoke with strangers (I mean, we're friends on Facebook and I was in Brownies with one of the girls, like, thirty-two years ago...) 
  • riding the R5 for a "fun" change of scenery and excellent people-watching (three weekends in a row)...oh, I get off the train in the city, don't worry (too much)
  • eating (brownies, cookies, too much homemade fried rice, tacos, guac, brownies, goldfish...anything in sight all. day. long)
  • cutting my hair impulsively 
  • rollerskating (is there any need to elaborate on this one? I think not...)
  • snowshoeing (we'll be doing this til March, right?)
  • mortifying/entertaining my kids with impromptu dance-offs  
  • taking inventory of all the unsightly/broken/old things in our home that need some help and/or replacing (our bed, the carpets, the struggling HVAC system, various kitchen appliances of varying importance, the paint, our living room furniture...)
  • eating (oh, I said that one already)
One month til Spring.
Let's go, let's go, let's go...