Archive for August, 2005
Last night I looked outside and noticed a police car in front of our house. This in itself isn’t a big deal. Cops routinely park their cars on the street in the summer as it’s one of the few streets in this small town with trees large enough to provide a small degree of shade. However I noticed the police officer wasn’t in his vehicle so I looked down the street and noticed two other police cars parked nearby. Now three police cars on any one street in this town at the same time is very unusual. Something was up.
I moved to the living room window where I noticed the police officers were talking to a frantic woman. She looked like she was crying but I couldn’t be sure. Two of the cops were talking into their radios and stopping the occasional car that drove down the road and talked to the drivers.
Then I noticed it. A blue plastic tricycle with large red wheels was in the middle of the sidewalk. No one went near it. Amid all the people on the sidewalk, no one touched it. Everyone walked in wide circles around it. Then it hit me. There was a missing child.
A few cars drove up. A man wearing a baseball cap emerged from one of the cars and ran over to the woman and hugged her. He was crying too.
Then a black sedan pulled up. A blond haired three year old girl emerged from the back seat and ran over to the man and woman. The look on the woman’s face was priceless. She hugged the girl and said “I love you. I love you.” over and over again. The parents apparently knew the person who found her. He pointed to a far corner of the neighborhood telling them where he found her. The girl said something and everyone, including the police officers, laughed. Then she walked over to the blue plastic tricycle and started to pedal down the sidewalk. Mom wasn’t about to loose her daughter again. She gently picked her up and held her in her arms and put her in the back seat of their car. The dad put the tricycle in the trunk and the family drove home.
Within minutes the street was back to normal. The only sound was the occasional yell of encouragement from a coach watching his soccer team practicing in the park across the street.
August 31st, 2005
Running this time of year is always bittersweet. Since the sun isn’t up, it’s cooler and the run is more pleasant. Yet every morning a little more darkness creeps into my run and I know that soon I’ll be running in the dark again — something I don’t particularly enjoy. But for a few weeks I’ll be able to race the first rays of sun to my front door. This morning the sun beat me by a good thirty seconds. Tomorrow I’ll try to even the score.
The new baby was really squirming around last night. It’s no wonder Marathon Girl has a hard time sleeping. Since she couldn’t sleep, we talked late into the night.
One of the things we talked about was the size of the new baby. We’re a little worried he’s going to be huge. Aidan was born two weeks before his due date and weighed 8 lbs, 9 oz. (And you should see him now. At 15 months the kid towers over most two year olds.) Both Marathon Girl and I are quite tall and big babies run in our families.
The doctor says Marathon Girl is measuring normal but so was Aidan when he was this far along. The problem seems to be that Marathon Girl carries babies more high and inside than most women which can hide the actual size of the baby. We don’t mind having one the size of Aidan again, but would prefer to deliver a baby under 9 lbs. (Marathon Girl feels particularity strongly about this. Go figure.)
At her last doctor’s visit, I told the doctor our concerns. He didn’t seemed too worried about the baby’s size but that did little to calm our fears. At her next appointment next week, I plan on bringing up the size issue again. If he’s still unconcerned, I’m willing to pay for another ultra sound. The last thing we want is a difficult delivery.
August 26th, 2005
As her pregnancy reaches her final months, Marathon Girl has difficulty falling to sleep. To help, I’ve been reading short stories by Ethan Canin or Tobias Wolff to Marathon Girl the last few evenings. They’ve been fun to read and, if we’re not too tired, talk about it as we drift off to sleep. I haven’t read some of these stories in years and it’s interesting how my thoughts about them or the characters has changed as I’ve grown older. Some stories I like more, some less. And I enjoy having someone to talk too about them. Marathon Girl has wonderful insight on them. I enjoy talking with her about them when we’re done and letting our words fill the dark room. In my world, talking about a story we’ve just read is one of the best ways to fall asleep.
Her perspective has been good for my book too. The other night, before we read the short story Hunters in the Snow, Marathon Girl looked over the first few paragraphs of a chapter I’ve been struggling with. She was able to help me smooth out some transitions and improve it quite a bit. Until recently, I’ve never knew she had such good editing skills. She has a natural way of making sure things events are structured in a logical way — something I struggle with. I only wish I would have brought her into the book earlier. It would have saved me quite a bit of rewriting.
What else can I say?
Marathon Girl is amazing.
I’m the luckiest guy in the world.
August 24th, 2005
I received an interesting email over the weekend. Another young widower came across my Dating A Widower article and had some questions about it. Though he seemed to agree most of its contents, he found the tone of it a little “callous.” The emailer also found the phrase “my first wife is no longer part of my life” a little shocking and wondered how I could feel this way.
I’ve written about this in my old blog. But since I have many new readers since coming to this site who haven’t read through my old one, I thought I’d post my reply here.
Thanks for your email. I appreciate your comments on my Dating A Widower article. I’m glad you found it helpful.
You aren’t the first person to mention that some of my writings have an unfeeling quality toward my first wife. However, please don’t take it to mean I don’t love her or think about her on occasion. I love her tremendously and I always will. My first wife’s influence will always be part of me. You can’t spend years with someone and not have a part of them stay with you.
As for my first wife not being part of my life, I suggest you read the context in which that phrase was written. I was talking about celebrating or acknowledging events such as my first wife birthday, our anniversary, or date of her death. I stated that I don’t do anything to celebrate those days.
Because I’ve remarried.
Read the rest of the paragraph. I stated that things might be different if I was still single. In fact if I wasn’t married might do something for those days.
When I decided to remarry, I made the decision to make Marathon Girl and her happiness the main priority in my life. What possible benefit to my current marriage would commemorating my previous anniversary, first wife’s birthday, or any other significant event?
Marathon Girl knows how I feel about my first wife. We talk openly about my first wife and my relationship with her. My first wife is a part of our marriage and always will be. But that doesn’t mean her birthday, our anniversary, or other special day needs to be part of my life with Marathon Girl.
Put in that context, my first wife is no longer part of my life. Right now I have more important and pressing things to do then celebrate events that have little significance to my current situation. Marathon Girl’s birthday, our anniversary, and other special dates the two of us share take precedence.
Marathon Girl has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. In a lot of ways I don’t deserve someone as caring, loving, and beautiful as her. I feel very fortunate to have found love again and I’ll be damned if I’m going to make Marathon Girl feel like she’s competing with a ghost. I attribute a lot of the success and happiness in our marriage to the fact that I don’t let my previous one wiggle between the two of us.
Since you’re a recent widower and just entering the dating game again, I can understand how my attitude may appear uncaring. But when you find someone you can love as much as your deceased spouse, things will go a lot better if the new woman feels that she also has a special place in your heart. I receive a lot of emails from women dating widowers and by far the most common complaint they have is that they’re dating a man who can’t let go enough to love them too.
Life is meant to be lived, not wasted thinking about the dead all the time or what might have been. I’ve was lucky to find love once and even more fortunate to find it again. I will not let the dead come between me and enjoying life and living it to its fullest potential.
August 22nd, 2005
For most of my life I’ve been a morning person. I’m one who has no trouble waking up at, say, 5 a.m. and starting my day. It’s been during these wee morning hours that I’ve tried to dedicate to working on my book.
Within the last month, I’ve started writing at late at night. Much to my surprise, it’s been extremely productive. When I have all day to think about what I want to do with a chapter, I find that I can write faster and better than early in the mornings when it takes a good 15 or 20 minutes to clear the cobwebs and get my brain up to writing speed.
It’s been interesting to see how I’ve evolved into more of a night person over the last 30 days. And truth be told, I don’t mind it. As long as I continue to write well, I’ll stick with this late night thing for awhile.
And it’s been a nice change write near an open window feeling the warm night air on my arms and hearing the occasional sound of skateboard wheels on the sidewalk or the conversations of a couple out for a late night walk. Those sounds are something you don’t hear at five in the morning.
(By the way, for those who want to know the latest on the book, I suggest you join my mailing list. I usually update subscribers of the books progress and even include an occasional excerpt.)
Correction: In my last post I stated that Terrell Owens walked out of training camp. As an anonymous comment pointed out, Owens was actually asked to leave camp. Either way, I still claim it’s not news.
August 18th, 2005
One of the reasons I decided not to pursue a career in journalism many years ago was the lack of “real” reporting. Especially during the summer months it seemed that journalists were bored and needing something to write (or film) would pursue something not worth most people’s time and try to turn it into a real story.
Hence whenever see the headline for the latest Terrell Owens antics, I wonder if the world of sports so incredibly slow that there’s nothing else do to than indulge the ego of a millionaire wide receiver turned crybaby?
Who cares if he walked out of camp? Who cares if he won’t play without a new contract? There’s nothing a prima donna likes more than attention and if the media stopped covering Owens’ temper tantrums he’d probably behave. Instead of an interview with Owens in his driveway, how about a story that actually requires some work, like, say, on what would happen to the rest of us if we walked off our jobs and refused to return without a raise.
And it’s not only sports journalism that’s guilty of turning molehills into mountains. I see the same thing with the coverage of Cindy Sheehan.
The media, bored out of their minds in Texas, have decided to turn this woman into a story.
Christopher Hitchens wrote an excellent article in Slate today about it. He says:
What dreary sentimental nonsense this all is, and how much space has been wasted on it. Most irritating is the snide idea that the president is “on vacation” and thus idly ignoring his suffering subjects, when the truth is that the members of the media–not known for their immunity to the charm of Martha’s Vineyard or Cape Cod in the month of August–are themselves lazing away the season with a soft-centered nonstory that practically, as we like to say in the trade, “writes itself.”
Covering one woman’s cause isn’t news. Walk the streets of Washington D.C. and you’ll see tons of people with signs protesting something or another. Everyone has an axe to grind. That doesn’t make it news.
Thankfully with the advent of the Internet, I no longer have to waste my time watching national news or reading local papers to find interesting hard news stories. Thanks to Google News, the Drudge Report, or other news boards, I can find interesting stories without having to wade through the garbage.
August 16th, 2005
I guess it’s true. Mac users really are fanatics.
August 16th, 2005
“…Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag. Take your fight outside. Better yet, into the incinerator….”
– Fahrenheit 451
Last Friday I read your policy that forbids “displaying hostile and abusive racial/ethnic/national origin mascots, nicknames or imagery at any of the 88 NCAA championships.”
“Finally!” I thought. “There’s a macot out there that offends me every time I hear it! Maybe now this school will finally change their mascot to something less offensive.”
So I read through the list of schools who have mascots you deem offensive.
Much to my dismay, I didn’t see Nortre Dame’s mascot anywhere on the list.
As a proud Irish-American, I am offended by the school nickname Fighting Irish. It is a slur on all Irish-Americans. In case the NCAA is unaware, the label “Fighting Irish” derives from “anti-Catholic nativists who reviled the poor and mostly uneducated Irish immigrants who came to these shores in the mid-19th century–a drunken, brawling breed, it was said, who espoused the wrong religion.”
By not adding Notre Dame to the list, it’s obvious that the committee that adapted this rule are a bunch of Irish-American bigots.
The truth is that most Irish-Americans are hard working, productive citizens. We obey the law, pay our taxes, and raise our children to be good Americans.
And what do we get in return? Nothing but hatred and a cold shoulder wherever we go.
Just the other day I was at the bank depositing my hard earned money. When the teller brought up my account info she asked if Keogh was Irish. I told her it was.
“Shouldn’t you be out drinking or chasing leprechauns or something?” she said.
See what we have to endure.
And you know where ideas like this come from, don’t you?
Television. Especially sports related television.
In a matter of weeks college football will start. Norte Dame will start another outstanding season and the term Fighting Irish will be said over and over again on ESPN. And the amount of harassment that I and other Irish-Americans will experience will go up as well.
Soon I won’t be able to walk down the sidewalk in my own neighborhood without someone wondering if I’m simply looking for trouble.
You may say that most Irish-Americans don’t care.
Well, I do.
And in a society where all we’re concerned about is another’s feelings, that should be enough to justify banning the Fighting Irish mascot.
Thanks for your consideration in this matter.
I look forward to you adding Norte Dame to the list.
August 12th, 2005
We moved Aidan to a toddler bed this weekend since he’s rapidly outgrowing his crib.
He took right to his new bed and has had no problem sleeping in it.
There was one downside to this bed however that I didn’t think about.
Instead of making noise to alert us when he’s awake, he now can crawl out of bed and come running to our room. This point was driven home yesterday when I awoke to go for my 6:30 a.m. run.
Aidan was awake and when he heard me walking around came running into the room yelling “Da da da da da!” In his hand he had a book that he wanted me to read.
This wasn’t good.
Marathon Girl had not slept well that night and was in no mood to watch with Aidan. I needed to run and couldn’t leave Aidan run around the house by himself.
What else could I do other than take him running with me?
So I put him in the running stroller and started the daily run.
Everything went great until mile three. Aidan sat in the stroller and flipped through the pages of his book. I was running slower than usual but still making a decent pace all things considered.
Then exhaustion overtook me. Instead of pushing a baby, I felt like I was pushing a car. I slowed the pace a bit to regain my breath. The muscles in my arms and legs grew tight.
“I don’t know if we’re going to make it home,” I said to Aidan between gasps.
“Da da da da da!” Aidan said as he looked up at me as if he really meant to say “This is as fast as you can go? What kind of father are you?”
I made it home — barely. I put Aidan in his highchair, gave him some breakfast, and went to shower and ready myself for another day at work.
Marathon Girl roused herself from bed while I was getting ready and asked me how the run went.
“The last mile was a killer,” I said. “I don’t think I could push Aidan every day.”
“Better get yourself in shape,” she said as she squeezed my arm. “Next summer you could be pushing both kids.”
Holy crap. She’s right.
Maybe it’s time to take up something a little less strenuous.
August 10th, 2005
One of the more comforting things in life is to know you’re not alone in the world. That out there on this big ball of dirt, there’s someone, somewhere who shares something in common with you.
While shopping with Marathon Girl this weekend, I learned that in fact I am not alone. My life now has purpose and meaning.
I saw someone wearing a Detroit Tiger baseball hat.
Least you don’t understand the subtleties of Major League Baseball, people don’t just walk around wearing Detroit Tiger hats. The Tigers often rank up there with the Devil Rays or the Rockies in terms of respectability. In the eyes of many, wearing a Tiger hat it’s the equivalent of walking around with a big L on your forehead.
I first noticed this guy in the parking lot and pointed him out to Marathon Girl. (Marathon Girl didn’t seem to think this was such a big deal.)
As luck would have it, we ended up shopping in the same store.
About halfway through the shopping trip our paths crossed. Our eyes met then immediately went to our respective baseball caps.
No words needed to be exchanged. Just a quick nod to one another in realization that, yes, there are other Tiger fans out there that share in the same pain and confusion each night when we see that the Tigers have suffered yet another setback or made another bonehead move.
So if you see me with a smile on my face, you’ll know why.
I am not alone.
I can now die a happy man.
August 8th, 2005
Marathon Girl and I teach the 14-18 year olds in our church for an hour each Sunday. We enjoy the teaching anywhere between 5-8 teens each week. Our students are smart, well behaved for teenagers, and, for the most part, want to be there.
I’ve learned a few things from teaching this class. One is that the better prepared our lessons are, the more enjoyable the class is for everyone. So Marathon Girl and I spend about thirty minutes each night preparing the lesson and discussing what we’ll share with them. The result is usually an valuable in-depth lesson that I hope is valuable to our students.
Last weekend the subject was relying on the Savior for overcoming adversity. I was looking forward to teaching this lesson and sharing what I’ve learned from losing a wife and daughter with them. We’re close enough with our class that I felt comfortable sharing some personal experiences with them.
Saturday night arrives. It’s 9:30. Marathon Girl and I are putting the final touches on the lesson. I feel good about this one. I know the subject well and supporting scriptures well. I’m looking forward to class the next day.
Then the phone rings.
It’s another member of our church. Apparently the teacher who teaches the adult class won’t be able to make it tomorrow. The caller asks if I can take my class to the adult class and teach them the lesson I’ve prepared.
Usually this is something I’d be happy to do. But this time I hesitated. I knew the lesson I had prepared was going to be very personal. And while I was comfortable sharing this with my small class, I didn’t feel comfortable sharing it with the entire congregation.
Odd, I know. I’ve been blogging off and on about the whole widower thing for three years and writing a book about the experience. And anyone that knows me can simply type my name into Goggle and learn all about me. So you think I wouldn’t have any qualms about sharing parts of my story with people in church. But for some reason I was hesitant to share any of these experiences with my neighbors.
I tried very politely to weasel out of teaching the other class. But all my excuses were for naught. I was the only one on such short notice who could teach the class.
I hung up the phone and told Marathon Girl about the call. She didn’t seem nearly as bothered about teaching the other class as I.
“If you think about it, you’re the perfect person to teach this lesson,” she said. “Maybe there’s a reason things turned out this way.”
That wasn’t the answer I wanted.I went back over my notes for the lesson and tried to reorganize in such a way that I wouldn’t have to share anything persona. It wasn’t working. The lesson wasn’t going to work unless I shared something personal.
Sensing my frustration, Marathon Girl sat next to me.
“You’ve told me many times that you think things happen for a reason,” she said. “Maybe it’s not a coincidence that the other teacher couldn’t make it. Maybe there is going to be someone tomorrow that needs to hear about what you went through.”
I mumbled something about not using my own words against me and continued to review my notes.
Sunday morning came. Marathon Girl, Aidan, and I headed off to church. I couldn’t concentrate through the first hour of services. I kept reviewing my lesson, trying to find a way to take any personal experiences out of it without any success.
Then came time to teach the class.
As I stood up to start the lesson, I realized this was the Sunday that everyone decided to show up to church. I estimated there was about 90 people in attendance.
I waited for a moment hoping for some kind of miracle that would excuse me from the class like a meteor to come smashing through the roof of the church or the fire alarm to go off.
Instead I had 90 pair of eyes staring at me, waiting for me to begin.
I took a deep breath and started teaching.
And the lesson went well. Very well. Much better than I hoped.
After the lesson I felt I had said the right words and those words had touched someone who needed to hear about my experiences, as hard as they were to share.
Maybe Marathon Girl’s was right.
Maybe there was a reason the regular teacher couldn’t make it.
Maybe there was a reason I needed to teach that lesson that day.
Maybe there are no coincidences.
August 5th, 2005
I’ve been running regularly for five years.
During this time I’ve discovered I need motivation to run or it becomes monotonous.
When I first started running, my motivation was to lose weight. When Marathon Girl came into my life, my goal every morning was to run faster than her. (A goal I have of yet to obtain.)
Now that she’s pregnant, we don’t run together as often or as fast as we have in the past. So on the mornings I run alone, I’ve had to come up with another reason to lace up the running shoes several times a week.
This summer I’ve found one.
Let me explain.
Two miles of my four mile run takes me by several holes of the local golf course. Most summer mornings the course is quite busy with golfers trying to squeeze in some rounds before work or retirees enjoying their free time.
The way the course was designed there are several holes that often send stray balls out onto the running trail or into the street. Because of this most mornings there’s at least one dew covered golf ball lying in the grass next to the running trail. Sometimes two.
Each morning I’ve been picking up these stray balls as I run and taking them home with me.
I’m not sure why.
I don’t golf or ever had the desire to play even one hole.
But last month alone I must have brought home close to 30 golf balls.
One shelf of my garage contains several quart jars full of Titleist, Callaway, and Nike balls.
Forget timing my runs or trying a new running course. Morning runs have become a quest to see how many balls I can find or perhaps discover a brand of ball that I don’t have.
Thankfully Marathon Girl should be running in a couple months and my motivation can be keeping up with her as she trains for several marathons.
Her timing couldn’t be better.
I’m running out of jars to put golf balls in.
August 2nd, 2005