Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A window of opportunity to run

The weather has been atrociously cold and I hadn't run in a week and a half.  I woke up yesterday and it was mid-40s, the first time above freezing in a week.

But no one at work had brought their running clothes.  (How hard is it to keep leggings, worn shoes, a top, a wind jax, cotton gloves, a skull cap and a towel in a file cabinet?)  So for the first time in a long time I ran alone at noon.

I resisted all the reasons why I shouldn't run and should just go to lunch instead and headed out towards the Capitol.  The next bad weather was closing in fast, with the wind picking up and the temperature dropping eight degrees in the time I was out so I was glad I was out taking advantage of my best opportunity to run in two weeks.  By midmorning today it's supposed to be the coldest it's been here in 20 years.

I went up the hill and around the backside of the Capitol, down the new path to the visitor's center, up the stairs to the plaza behind it, back down the stairs and up the pathway to the street again, down Capital Hill, through the pocket park to the Mall, around the carousel, over Labor Hill, up Capitol Hill again and back to my workplace by Union Station, four miles, two pounds lost during the run and 48 dropped in three years.  Now it's time to hunker down again until the weekend when conditions might be more accommodating to running again.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad

Happy Birthday, Dad.  You would have been 89.  You left us way too soon at age 61.

Husband (married 42 years till death did him part), Warrior (two island campaigns in the Pacific Theater with the First Marine Division), Athlete (selected captain of his high school team, split end on his college team), Scholar (finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship, Yale Law School), Father (six children), Lawyer (Wall Street law firm partner), Liberal (humanist, he had a heart), Activist (he went to the south twice in the mid-60s to help enroll voters), Leader (President of the New York County Lawyers Association, President of the Carleton College Alumni Board), Provider (he sent six kids through college), and so much more.

He taught me a guiding principle in my life, even beyond trying to be like him, confident, unafraid, action-oriented, smart.  He believed in Voltaire's refrain, The Best Is The Enemy Of The Good, and so do I now.

His lawyer associates were in awe of him.  The other partners always talked about his successful insistence that the firm accept less money than they had billed for in the bankruptcy settlement of a major client, W.T. Grant, because it was in the best interests of the client.  Imagine that!  The firm litigator, several associates once rushed into his office during the lunch hour because one of their lunch party had responded to some construction workers' catcalls and gotten himself beat up while the rest of the party of young educated men stood by horror struck, taking names and threatening legal action.  They wanted my dad to file a civil law suit against the construction company.  "Did you go help your friend while he was getting pummeled?" he asked.  "Well, no."  My father picked up the newspaper on his desk, opened it and said to the band of young men, "Good day, gentlemen."  He left the law when he thought it had changed from a profession into a business.

When I was in high school, my best friend came over to our house and rang the bell.  When I opened the door, he was on our porch next to two young toughs, one with a sawed-off broom handle, with two more toughs lurking on the sidewalk, who had been tailing my friend and harassing him.  I ordered the two young men off my porch, was invited to "make them" which I did by shoving the one with the stick towards the sidewalk and the fight was on!  Four on two, with one armed (with a wicked stick).  It wasn't going particularly well for the good guys, especially since after absorbing a few wild swings from the stick I got inside on the tough wielding it and punched him--and broke my hand!  My friend was doing steadfast work as he was wrassling with the other three.  Fortunately my father felt a draft and came to close the door.  You never saw a desperate situation change so rapidly, or such a transformation in a peaceful man.  There was a sound of tearing cloth as my father grabbed the collar of the ringleader with one hand while his other hand was clenched menacingly into a fist and kept low but prominent.  He frogwalked the eighteen-year old off the porch and the two warring groups separated and sort of spilled after those two as the one was marched up the street by the other who was issuing low and commanding questions like, What is your name, What are you doing here etc., that were getting answered in hysterical yelps.  The four toughs were last seen hurriedly leaving the neighborhood, never to be seen again, Lew was fine except for some bruises where he had been kicked (in the back of the neck--nice fellows!), I had the broken bone in my hand set at the ER and my father went back to his football game on TV.

What he took away from the Marines is their truism:  Never complain, never explain.  I try to adhere to that (it's hard).

After he died, I read some consolation letters sent to my mother.  One was from a WW2 buddy who'd seen the elephant alongside my Dad.  He wrote, as best as I remember, Jim was always an uplifting spirit on Peleliu.  Even in the most desperate moments he was always calm, encouraging and steadfast.

He taught me by example how to be a man.  Whenever I'm in a situation I don't know how to handle, I always think, What would dad have done?  Love you always, Dad!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Insurance. HEY DANNY

I read an interesting article on health insurance recently.  (Health insurance doesn't really work well for its intended pool, the sick or injured, if it's profit based, as in, apparently, only the USA.)   It said that the ACA (Obamacare) is a godsend for the over-50 divorced woman.

I know about that.  I have a relative over 50 with a pre-existing condition who was dropped from her then-hubbie's coverage when he divorced her for a trophy wife and, well, she might as well have adopted the GOP plan (Just Die).

But now she has insurance, and has used it.  An Obamacare success story, although she had travails in getting signed up and it was a good thing she doesn't work currently so she could spend hours at the keyboard and on the phone trying to get signed up.

Hooray for the good guys.  And hey, youngest son, I have the best insurance in America, much better than your Mother's, it's the Federal Government Worker's single payor gold standard insurance (which should be what Obamacare adopted) so if you want to get good health coverage in that window while you're still under age 26 contact me!  (I haven't spoken to this lad in a decade, the divorce you know,  wherein in my opinion his Mother acted reprehensibly and overbore the will of a susceptible minor child in her "care" and put him under her inferior health care plan during the interminable litigation so I wouldn't know when she was taking him to yet another mental health "professional" for the purposes, in my opinion, of potential "recovered memory" testimony in court.)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

First Run of the Year

It was record cold in the District yesterday morning, in the single digits with up to 30MPH winds which made it feel like it was well below zero.  Just like in the old days in Boulder County when I used to be outside (albeit in my car for long stretches) for eight hours each shift covering wrecks, arresting drunks and stopping speeders for the Colorado State Patrol when it was sometimes 10 degrees below zero or even colder during the winter months.

At night, up in the mountains.  I wore thermal long johns and polar leggings under my wool uniform pants, and the same sequence upstairs under a bulletproof vest, wool shirt and padded CSP windbreaker, and I got by.

The real problem is the wind.  It cuts through everything and takes any residual warmth right out of you.

Today it was in the twenties with low wind and I went out for a noontime run on the Mall with two co-workers.  I wore leggings, a tech t-shirt, a long-sleeve shirt and a windshirt, gloves, earband and a ball cap.

I was hot after two miles, but it was a good run.  I hadn't run since last year, because of the holidays, but I was gratified to see that I'm still under 200 despite the inactivity, achieving that milestone finally in December having worked towards that goal for three years and having dropped almost half a C-note during that time.

We ran by an outside water fountain outside the American Indian Museum that had been left on (DUH!) that was frozen into an ice sculpture of rising and cascading water.  Workers were scraping away at a thick slab of ice extending all along the sidewalk from the fountain to the curb.

I didn't go running yesterday because, as a running friend of mine at work said, "There's a fine line between being a hard ass and a dumb ass."  Of course, he went running yesterday, but then again his best marathon is 50 minutes faster than mine and he's not even fifty yet so he's young and good.

I enjoy running with my work running buddies because they all think I'm fast and they force me to get out to run when I don't really want to (the commitment thing) and I get to show off my history trivia knowledge as we run by things (which "martyred president" is that a statue of?).  Plus that 50 pounds thing; the comeback from that started on a horrible noontime run three years ago when I finally got back to running regularly at noontime with a co-worker returning from maternity leave, after letting the onset of my chronic ankle injury dictate my inactivity for the two prior years.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Out With the Old, In with the New

For years, as my three children have eschewed all contact with me, thanks to their Mother actively involving them in the divorce litigation as minors in a narcissistic expression of her personality, I have spent all holidays I've been in town for at the same restaurant here in Northern Virginian at noon, hoping one or more of them would join me for lunch.  It's always a quiet lunch, with no company but with good food.

Again on New Year's Day, to no avail.  For the last time.

Lessee, the last time I laid eyes on any one of my children was in 2003.  The last time I heard one of their voices was in 2007.

Jimmy, Johnny, Danny, fare thee well.  I live in your childhood home, I'm in the book, and my work number hasn't changed for two decades.