"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Thursday, December 29, 2005

fighting the wee beasties

I feared that I was for sure getting sick yesterday, and I don't think it was just an allergic reaction to going back to work after a 5-day weekend. Aching all over, upset tummy, scratchy throat, chills.... Celia has been taking "Airborne" for the past week feeling like she was coming down with something, and my littlest nephew up at the Westport house for the family Christmas rendezvous pretty much barfed his way through the holidays. (Actually the story is more rich and complex than that but I'll gloss over it on the side of protecting his dignity). I do not hold him nor his parents, nor Celia, responsible for anything that may now be trying to infect me; there have been plenty o' germs to go around and allegedly his G.I. complaints were a side effect of an ear infection and the candy-pink antibiotic liquid he had to take. I remember taking that stuff when I was little. Not too bad as far as medicine goes but it has that distinctive smell. Amoxycillin in pill form has the same smell.

So I started taking Airborne yesterday too, along with aspirin every 4 - 6 hours, and I'm hanging in there. Didn't feel great today but good enough to go to work again and keep forging ahead with the end of the year completion of forms and tying of loose ends. I was somewhat skeptical of Airborne, "DEVELOPED BY A SCHOOL TEACHER TIRED OF GETTING SICK IN THE CLASSROOM!" but watching / listening to the effervescent tablet dissolve is strangely soothing in itself. Meaning absolutely no disrespect to school teachers. We should never let ourselves be foolishly limited by whatever training and professional credentials we actually have. For all I know, that school teacher could have studied Chinese herbal medicine in addition to obtaining the teaching credential. Mostly I hope that the school teacher has seen some of the profits on all those attractively packaged fizzy tablets over the past year. The RiteAid on the corner keeps selling out of them.

Meanwhile the creeks are rising. Celia said that Sycamore Pool was over its banks yesterday and some of the park benches in Annie's Glen are surrounded by water. Fortunately either nature or some surprisingly farsighted and intelligent human design set it up so that, barring inland hurricane or tsunami, the creek near us floods into the park, not into the nearby condos and houses. I love it when good planning actually happens.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

one for the people

I know the readership of my blog cannot be characterized as vast, but I know it is of the highest quality and I don't want to lose y'all. Thanks for sticking through some of the dry spells.

I jogged about 30 minutes in the park this morning, out to the landmark known in our household as "The Bathroom Bridge" and back, not because it is hygenically unsound in any way but because there is actually a very clean and well lighted restroom there. I had packed my gym bag to head to the gym since it's been raining the last few days but decided I was leaving too late for a worthwhile gym experience, and the weather was cloudy but stable. I went outside wearing my fleece everything and decided it would be too warm so I stripped down to t-shirt and shorts. An older neighbor in the complex was out with her terrier in the parking lot. She was wearing a knit hat and scarf and winter coat. She looked at me with the greatest concern and said, "Where is your jacket?" as if I didn't have a jacket and she was going to go find me one on the spot. I said, "When I run, I get too hot" and she seemed to accept this response.

I'm glad I remembered that little interaction because later in the day I was stuck on the phone with a client who has no plausible defense to her eviction that I can find, trying to level with her and give her the realistic if not so cheerful options, and after awhile you'd think from listening to her that I was her soon to be ex-landlord, or worse. Sort of like trying to help a wasp fly out the window when it's determined that it wants to stay inside. Actually that's not a very good analogy since people generally do better inside than wasps, but hopefully you get the point.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

pool, cool, yule

Since Celia became employed her workouts have shifted to a time when, if I can get out of bed timely enough, I can actually go with her. The first week or so of this phenomenon I was not timely. However the good influence is taking root. We went to the gym this morning. Celia gets on a LifeCycle and pretty much stays there for 45 minutes; I have a sort of gym A.D.D. or perhaps a more positive characterization is that I am a beautiful, beautiful butterfly. I rode a LifeCycle for five minutes to warm up, then I sat in the spa for additional warm up, then I swam 450 yards in the pool. The spa phase was utterly necessary because man, it was freakin' cold outside. I am happy with the swim though, not having done any swimming since whenever I last mentioned it here, which I think was a long time ago. I think when the Tri training group starts again in the spring I should be in much better swimming form than I was a year ago. As a result I may feel more inclined to attend the group swimming workouts.

Because of the cold air there was plenty of steam rising from the pool this morning...when I did a lap of kicking on my back, it was like flying through clouds...except I was kicking, which sort of ruined the effect. How was Superman supposed to have generated his forward momentum, anyway? I never actually considered that before. If anyone knows of an explanation, however far-fetched, I would be comforted to hear it. My previously suspended disbelief needs a little prop.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

the radio

Woke up to "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" this morning. It's the 25th anniversary of the death of John Lennon which was one of my formative experiences. Well, maybe formative is too strong a word, but it had a big impact. The strange phenonmenon of grieving someone you never met and were possibily unlikely ever to meet, even briefly. It meant a lot to me that no one tried to talk me out of how sad I was about losing one of my beloved Beatles, and in such a horribly unfair way.

I have two unemployment benefit appeal hearings today, back to back, for the parents of 5 kids. They are Hmong and half of the reason they left their good paying jobs in Southern California was to fulfill cultural duties in Northern California. I've heard that UIB hearings aren't generally too tough but since I've never done one, it seems more natural to freak myself out with anxiety about it. I need to get to work a little early this a.m. to finish up some declarations, put nice tabs on my paperwork, and so forth. I guess one difficulty with my job is that I still travel back and forth a lot between feeling like I sort of know what I'm doing, and realizing my deep and abiding cluelessless. I wish we had some kind of manual on how to conduct a successful UIB appeal. I wish I had a few more sworn declarations and bits of evidence. On the other hand, each hearing is slotted for about half an hour which would suggest that this is not a class action lawsuit against WalMart.

Maybe it will be ok. I just want these folks to get their money. I think the reason they don't have it was basically a communication problem when they applied four months ago. I think they may be able to give the appearance of speaking and understanding English somewhat better than they actually do. We'll have an interpreter at the hearing.

So I'd better get to work then.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

the streets of sacramento...

....are flat & wide. I didn't keep very good track of what my individual time was in the relay today but I think I did a respectable job of holding up my end, especially since I had made no prior assurances express or implied. I had the thrill of crossing the finish line of a marathon under a timer that said 3:45-something. Several of the other women from Chico (on my team and other teams) mentioned they felt guilty breezing past the poor souls who were actually running the whole distance. I searched my conscience and found that I didn't feel guilty at all. Who blackmailed those people into running 26.2 miles? Who chased after them with a red-hot poker? Meaning no disrespect, and certainly no lack of empathy. However, barring accidents, running is a pastime in which you are a willing participant in any suffering you experience, and the suffering of 5.7 miles was so small compared to what I've experienced with 26.2 that it felt a little like happiness.

I wonder if I will ever decide to run another full marathon. I think I could be faster now if I trained consistently. But I've been having trouble remembering what is / was the point of running that distance. Just because some Greek did it and then died shortly afterwards. Oooh, how compelling! At least Philippides ran to get somewhere he actually needed to go.

Then there are Ultras, like the American River 50 miler, or the Western States 100. The idea of running that far has its charms, but I think it would entail more devotion to suffering than I currently have. Surely there are other compulsive behaviors disguised as heroic achievement that I could engage in with less stress to the knee joints.