Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween

Does anyone know who we are? Come on, someone (not you, Jeff)...

Note the yogurt-lid necklace I'm wearing.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Happy Birthday to me

I turned 28 today.

It was a good day.

My son ran his first race and, despite our apprehensions, actually ran most all of the quarter-mile route. He crossed the finish line in 2:30 and loved the orange mardi-gras beads with a plastic skeleton hanging from them that he got as a reward.

After I ran the 5K (a nice, tough course; I finished in 25:27), Rye said, "Let's go run some more!" So we reran the route through the parking lot he had done before. He did the whole thing by himself the second time.

Later in the day, on more than one occasion, he said, "Hey Mommy, where'd my run go?"

After the race, which included a man dressed as Forest Gump when he's running and a live band, we stopped at Starbucks where I loved every ounce of the white chocolate mocha I ordered.

Then, we stopped home before heading to a very cool actual farm near Fontenelle Forest and Bellevue. It was "Trick or Treat with the Animals" day and every child there had a Halloween costume on except mine. But that was fine. We had a great time at the farm. We all got to pet a sheep (it felt just like wool!), I let a cow lick my hand (it felt like an oversized cat tongue), we saw lots of horses, a pig bit Rye's shirt and we took a hayrack ride. The day was just right, filled with sunshine. Rye also discovered Gummi Lifesavers ("Those ARE fruit snacks," he said).

After a nap in the car that lasted an hour after we got home (yes, we left him in the car, semi-supervised and windows down), my mom and sister came for dinner.

We went to Macaroni Grill, waited only minutes for a table, got our yummy food super fast, and I got serenaded by a waiter named Matt, who sang me something in Italian.

I got just about all the presents I'd asked for, too. But those really were just a bonus.

The real gift was that time was ours today, to do with it what we wanted. I never felt rushed; I always felt loved. Things just fit today. And that was nice.

Maybe, if today was any indication, 28 won't be so bad after all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The corners

My 2-year-old can't fall asleep without clutching corners of his tattered, blue, no-longer-soft blankie.

Tonight, tired and cranky, he rustled around, trying to get comfortable. In the process of getting the blankie just right under his head, he lost a corner.

"I can't find my corner!" he said, alarmed.

I helped him, and once he was confident that I had, in fact, given him a corner and not a mediocre edge, he settled down again, a corner in each hand.

I've watched him do this for months, maybe a year. He pulls along the sides of the knit blankie until he gets to a corner. Now, though, two are frayed so much that he has deemed them unacceptable. If I offer one of those, he'll say, "No, that's a yucky one." And we have to find a still-intact one.

He grips the precious corner in between his thumb and index finger. It's calming. When he gets hurt, he seeks a corner. Same when he's sleepy.

So it makes me wonder: Do we all have corners? Something we need, perhaps intangible even, to get by when we're hurt or tired or sad? I haven't thought enough about it to come up with mine. But I bet we do. Or we should.

I've also wondered what happens when in a month or two, the other corners fray. Will we have a catastrophe? Will he adapt? Will he learn to comfort himself? Will he just find a substitute corner?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall clothes

Is it just me, or does everyone have a hard time finding something to wear when the seasons change?

It's been awful the last week or so. I've even gone shopping a couple times and come home with a new pair of jeans (which I wore Friday and felt HUGE in them all day -- not what you want from a new pair of pants) and a few new shirts (one of which I can't wear because I don't have any pants that go with it. Very frustrating).

I've been trying to remember what I wore last fall and winter. And I'm coming up blank.

Today, I wore an old pair of white denim pants that also made me feel less than thin and that really just aren't very nice. I should have known the clothing day wasn't going to go well when after dropping Rye off at daycare this morning, I looked down at my brand new white sweater to find spots of orange V8 Fusion all over. I stopped home to change -- and was 15 minutes late for the interview I had set up at 9 a.m.

Can't it just be summer still? I think the true problem is that for maybe the first time ever I actually had warm-weather clothes I liked this season. Now, I'm back to clothes I really don't like. Too-big pants I bought after having Rye and one pair of pants I bought well before having Rye (they are too small).

None of this, of course, really matters. I certainly have clothes to choose from.

I just wish more things in life were easy. And getting dressed in the morning seems like something that should be easy.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Hannah freaking Montana

So I've been feeling awful for my sister, who's nearly 12, since the upcoming Hannah Montana concert sold out in minutes a few weeks ago.

Last week, I called in to a radio station, on a whim, and amazingly was caller 10. That entered me into a drawing the next morning for tickets. I had a one in three chance. I lost.

Yesterday, I heard they were releasing 1,000 more tickets and 500 people who showed up at 5 p.m. would get a wristband for a chance at tickets this morning.

Because I remember what it's like to really, really like a teen singer, I went to stand in line for a wristband. I arrived at 4:15 p.m. and ran past a line that stretched the entire length of the arena (probably three city blocks). I wasn't sure if 500 people were in line ahead of me already. It was close, I figured. I waited, and at 5:30 p.m., I got a wristband.

The instructions were clear: Do NOT remove it.

I left it on through dinner and then carefully slipped it off and called my mom to ask if she could return this morning to buy the tickets.

She ended up with four tickets to the most have-to-be-there tween concert in a long time. But a lot of people walked away disappointed, again.

As I waited yesterday, I listened to the mothers around me. The one in front of me: "We're going to be 501. I just know it. Don't get too excited, honey." Geez, I thought. How about instilling some hope in your child.

The one behind me had left her daughter at home. She was keeping her last-ditch effort a secret. I couldn't blame her.

I watched as more and more mothers, fathers and grandparents stood in line. People were being dropped off, clutching folding chairs. One man impatiently shouted for his two kids to GET IN LINE! while he parked the car. $6, of course, to park at the Qwest.

I felt sad as the line continued to grow. I knew so many of those people were going to be turned away. And so many more, who got their hopes up with a wristband, weren't going to get tickets today. 500 bands and only 1,000 tickets. Everyone could buy four tickets.

All of this for a teen pop singer?

It's too bad. Even though I was just as willing to spend time trying to get my sister tickets, I realize how silly it all is.

Just think: If as many people got together to fight homelessness or AIDS or poverty or cancer or mental illness or any of the other ills in our world today what change we could make. It would be incredible.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Omaha after all

After two weeks of hopefulness, worry, excitement and too-much logic, we've made a really good decision.

We're going to stay here.

Our friends will still be in Colorado, and I will still miss them every single day. The two jobs we almost took will go to someone else. And I will still wonder, what if?

But Omaha with its commute and lack of scenery has slowly become home (as much as I try to fight it).

I got really mad last night at the Realtor who came in with all his reality and pointed out all the sore spots in our house. Maybe the basement isn't finished properly, but it's still our basement. Maybe the upstairs only has two bedrooms, but they're still two nice bedrooms. I disliked the salesman almost right away. The Hummer he parked in our driveway should have been my first clue. The stink of his breath was the second.

So we won't be inviting him back.

We don't need to anyway. We're staying here. For now? Forever? I don't know. (OK, please don't let it be forever).

But I hope we'll start to actually live here, for now, being OK with keeping only a distant, watchful eye on those mountains to the west.

To my high school cross country coach

Dear Coach Hento,

I ran a race on Saturday, a four-miler in the tiny Nebraska town of Brainard where a college friend of mine grew up.

The field of runners was small. Basically, I was guaranteed a medal (I got fifth). But I wasn't running for the hardware.

I was running for the adrenaline at the starting line, the breath that comes from effort, the ache in my calves as I pushed up the gravel hills. I was running to cross the finish line, to feel good about myself and to have fun with an old friend.

I was running this particular race, the Bohemian Alps Endurance Run, because I knew it would remind me of cross country.

It did.

Within a half mile of the start, we'd already run out of town and turned east to make the gradual climb up the first of many hills. The country roads were just like I remembered. The hills were just as hard. The scenery -- if you could force yourself to look up - was just as beautiful. The effort was just as rewarding.

But something was missing.

At this race, not only were there no aid stations, there was also no Coach Hento in the big steely gray van.

You always made the hills doable and the races and workouts runnable. I'm a writer, but I can't put in words how much of an impact cross country had on my life. It's no secret that I never had a whole lot of raw talent. I got by on my heart and my effort, and cross country seemed to work with that. I took inspiration many times from you. You encouraged us to never give up, you pushed us to be better than we were, you cared about us. And that meant the world to me.

I'm sure you wondered when I was ever going to stop coming to summer morning runs. Did I set some sort of record for being the oldest alumni still showing up at 7 a.m. to stretch on the little block of pavement outside the girls gym? Either way, thank you for welcoming me back then and for teaching me about running -- and life -- before.

Congrats on 25 years!

Veronica Daehn Stickney
Fremont High Cross Country 1996 & 1997