Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Breathing Again


Hi all. I've been gone a while. Like everyone else, I've been coping with 2020 and all its weirdness and misery and pain in the best way I can. 

Now that it's the middle of November and the election is over, the fires are out, Coronavirus is still raging, I've lost my Dad, restructured my life around a full-time job, and streamlined my former business into a low key hobby, I'm ready to look forward to whatever life has to offer after this bout of insanity that we've all shared.

The answer to the obvious question here is, yes, I am still running. I've participated in a few virtual events this year, and I have to say it's been more enjoyable than I thought. I feel like I am retired from formal ultrarunning events with one exception: Across The Years. That one I will continue to do, except for this year with the COVID problem. 

Yes this year has sucked very much, even with some good things in between all the madness. I would have to say that the best two things that happened this year were starting a new job, which I love, and being able to hike in Rocky Mountain National Park every week this past summer until mid-August when the fires started. 

I love my job. I can't talk about it in too much detail, but suffice it to say in a nutshell that I work on data quality in cancer research. It's very mentally challenging and intense at times and it's extremely cutting-edge. I am learning a ton. Plus it's remote so I always work from home, pandemic or not. 

The really sucky parts of this year were: first, my dad died from Parkinson's disease on October 14th. I was able to go down there for a few days in early October visiting him and spending time with him, and helping my stepmom get him set up on hospice. He was still able to talk and joke about things while I was there, so it was a good visit. He was ready. He had almost no quality of life anymore. He told us he was done. And he was. I miss him. Parkinson's is a sucky, horrible disease and I'm glad he's not suffering anymore. 

The next two sucky parts of this year were: 1) the fires that burned west of here, in the areas where I usually hike and run in the summer. It will be at least until next year before I know how much damage was done, if they open the trails at all in the next year or so because of the erosion. 

And 2) the civil unrest that really blew up after the George Floyd murder, and there is so much to say about that and everything that's happened between then and now. It's terrible that it took until the George Floyd incident on video to get people to wake the fuck up about what's been happening forever in this country, and the sudden interest in anti-racism is a good thing even though it's so long overdue, and I hope it doesn't disappear from the forefront like so many important issues do when swallowed up by the next distraction. As far as I'm concerned, this inequality of justice is the most important problem facing our country, and it hurts us ALL. Including fearful white people who are scared to death of change and have a death grip on keeping us in the dark ages and/or the 1950's. 

I am not going on a rant about politics, this year has been filled with that. I have to admit I am scared. I am scared that 72 million people voted for the orange orangutan. I do not understand the logic-free, fact-free, reality-detached world in which those 72 million people live. I am scared that if we don't make some very necessary changes in the way our government operates, we are screwed. 

I am hoping to be here for at least another two and a half or three decades and I really don't want to move to another country, but I just do not understand how people could not want things like healthcare or equal justice or affordable housing or quality education for everyone. I just don't understand the whole attitude of, "It's my right to do whatever the fuck I want and screw everybody else". 

Enough politics for now.

I have an announcement to make. I am about to get my toes wet in a new sport. I don't know where this new path will take me, but for a very long time, I've wanted to climb the volcanoes outside Mexico City. I first heard about them 30 years ago, about the time I started doing ultras. The past year or so I've become somewhat obsessed by them and I am starting to plan to climb them once this pandemic is over and we can travel safely again. 

On December 5th this year I'm signed up for a mountaineering basic skills course where I will learn rope travel, ice axe self-arrest, and how to walk in crampons. I need to learn how to do that before I can do those climbs. I'm looking at a late 2021 (unlikely) or 2022 (much more likely) trip to climb Iztaccihuatl and Citlalt├ępetl, the two highest volcanoes in Mexico. 

As far as my altitude thing goes, I did make it up one 14,000 foot peak again this past summer, Mt. Princeton. I was still Gooney Bird, but I actually did pretty well sleeping at 9000 feet the night before. I need to remember when I ascend these things, that I'm not running a race. I think I tend to go too fast, because I do have good fitness, but I don't adapt to altitude as fast as my body thinks it should. 

And there is always Diamox if needed, which I have never tried before, but will definitely have on hand before I go any higher. 

Next summer, COVID and permit process permitting, I have a plan to climb Mt. Whitney with a friend, which will be a good opportunity to carry heavy packs and get up as high as possible without traveling out of the country. 

Again, it's been a while. I've been unable to write, just sort of paralyzed and overwhelmed by all that's going on around me. Writing has so often been therapeutic, but for the longest time this year it felt like I was re-traumatizing myself by writing about 2020 and the orange scourge, because it was all I could think about most of the time anyway. Somehow just knowing that things will change in a matter of weeks, 66 days until inauguration day, is so comforting, even though I realize how difficult it's going to be until then and beyond. 

I'll check in when I can, as this winter progresses. Be well, be safe, and find SOMETHING to look forward to. 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Sacred Entitlements

Wouldn't this look nice with some clay pigeons, beer cans, and off-road vehicle
tracks,with some jet skis and speedboats on the water, with gunshot sounds?
The past 3 1/2 years have been the pinnacle of misery in my lifetime. The US leads the world in stressing out its citizens and residents, including those who thought they could come here for a better life and instead were greeted with the horrors of family separation, imprisonment, and abuse.

We make the lives of not only our own citizens, but people around the world, and animals and plants and other living beings on this earth, so much more stressful, and cause so many to endure such suffering and pain, than is ever necessary. 

None of it is new to me, none of it is a surprise, and this is nothing I haven't noticed before or thought deeply about. I've endured various flavors of discrimination myself but I've always had one thing going for me- the color of my skin. I never had to worry that if I was pulled over, I might end up being beaten, wrongly imprisoned, or dead. 

I can think of dozens of incidents and events in my lifetime where our country's public responses and actions resulted in much more harm than good. This country imparts upon so many of its formerly demographic majority citizens a sense of entitlement. And I'm really fucking sick of it. 

And this entitlement, they eat it up, internalize it, and it becomes ingrained forever and ever, and if anyone ever dares to question it or suggest change, they react with anger, defensiveness, and gaslighting. They act as if they got everything they have on their own, they built it and created the wealth for themselves, not by using slave labor or abusive tactics. They defend it by turning it around on those who are just asking to be treated fairly and equally- they use the word "entitlement" to mean a handout, implying they should feel guilty about asking for help or even needing help. 

We are seeing the ugliness of these slithering creatures who have been mostly hidden from view, until now, that the savior of hate has liberated them, their entitlement has been exposed for all to see. All it takes is for the stars to line up with a pandemic and a viral video exposure of the intersection of racism and violence. Add an idiot sociopath in the White House, 300+ million people who are exhausted and drained physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually by the state of the world created by his extorted and/or equally sociopathic followers. 

And they whine about being asked or required to wear masks or being mask-shamed, and about not being able to go eat their crappy obesogenic Chik-Fil-A among other equally deranged specimens of health, not being able to get their tattoos or nails and hair done, or not being able to go out, swill beer and leer. 

What the fuck makes them so special? 

It's their sense of entitlement. 

Entitled to:
  1. their hate 
  2. their beliefs of superiority
  3. not change behaviors or attitudes 
  4. not learn new information
  5. ignore facts
  6. never admit mistakes
  7. endanger other people's safety and lives (e.g. carrying guns, spreading infectious disease)
  8. not have to think critically
  9. live in their own little bubble as if nothing they do affects anyone else around them
  10. not contribute anything to the public good by paying taxes based on a fair system
  11. special treatment or service when and how they want it
  12. buy and consume goods and services without consideration of who might be harmed by their production 
  13. take more than they need, and accumulate wealth in a way that takes away from others' ability to survive
  14. pollute, litter, and harm the environment
  15. property rights as if they were a license to destroy and harm the planet and other living beings
  16. drive violently
  17. disregard the suffering, pain, lives and well-being of their fellow citizens
  18. leave an indelible mark on the earth as a testament to their existence
What pushed me over the edge last week- and I've been over the edge so much lately I could be a cliff jumper by now- was a series of stupid, ignorant, life-in-a-bubble comments by one of my white male 60-something neighbors. Both times I was not there to hear it, but someone else told me about it after the fact. First time, he was complaining about the riots. Second time, he made a totally boneheaded, insensitive, microaggressive comment to a younger black man, who calmly brushed it off. 

I wondered where the hell has my neighbor been living for the past month? The fact that my neighbor can say shit like that and it doesn't even faze him- doesn't think twice about it- he obviously has not been watching the news (other than Fox) and has no self-awareness or empathy whatsoever. But mostly, entitled: to live in a bubble, ignore facts, ignore current events and the impact of your own behavior and attitudes on other people, avoid learning or keeping up with the times...

I know that just writing this could be construed as moral superiority, elitism, and all those other names that people like to call "the libs". But I'm not going to apologize for calling out the bullshit behavior that I, as a 56 year old barely off-white, cisgender female, queer, Jewish-born human being have witnessed and endured my entire life, that has harmed and traumatized me in innumerable ways, and that has done immensely and exponentially greater harm to generations of other human beings, my fellow citizens and inhabitants of this planet, who happened to be born with dark skin. 

And I'm just, plain, fucking sick to death of all of it. 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Yes, Cancer Still Goes On in a Pandemic.

Just a few thoughts.

I've been plagued (no pun intended) with people posting things to my social media pages and sending me memes about God Bless Nurses, nurses are angels, heroes, etc. People send me all kinds of thank yous and stuff about nurses on the front lines and risking their lives in the current situation.

I wish they would stop. Not only does it show that they don't understand the wide range of work that nurses do, it borders on the obsequious when they send that stuff to me personally.

I'm not on the front lines.

I don't have to worry about wearing a mask at work, because I don't work in a hospital anymore, or in direct patient care. I work in my home office, a tiny 100 square foot space where the dirtiest thing I have to deal with are muddy paw prints in the spring. So please, don't call me a hero, angel, or any other superhuman. Save that stuff for the nurses who deserve it, or want it (I doubt 99.9% of them are in it for the praise), and who are out there daily, risking their lives, health, sanity, and dignity to keep working for a system that doesn't care about them or the patients they take care of.

Not only does it tug at my sense of guilt about not being there helping out because deep down I really do feel like somehow I still have that bedside nurse in me (with my decade-long absence from ICU to boot), but it's really not deserved. I haven't started an IV in seven years and I haven't touched a ventilated patient in ten.

I chose to leave hospital nursing in 2013 because I felt the conditions were abusive, disrespectful, a waste of human talent, and I wasn't willing to subject myself to a bunch of lying, gaslighting, insecure, self-enriching, mediocrity-enhancing people with low self-esteem thinly disguised behind suits. I still experience some PTSD-like symptoms, or responses, to certain stressors as a result of it. As much as I hope I will never ever have to go back, there is still this deep down pang of duty that I feel when I hear how hard they are all being worked.

But seven years later, here we are. It's all being exposed. Daylight has finally broken through, and unfortunately, it took a pandemic to do it. And I cringe, shudder, and feel nauseated when I think about the healthcare workers who are on the front lines of this situation, now, and the toll this will take on their mental health. Our country hasn't done a good job in the past of caring for veterans who came back from active combat, physically or mentally. And I have no doubt that the mental and emotional toll this pandemic will take on healthcare workers will become a crisis in itself.

I am still an oncology nurse now. I now work in research and technology around oncology care and treatment. And I have no desire to take anything away from the nurses who are working at the bedside in this horrible situation, saving lives and comforting those they can't save, to the best of their abilities.

But cancer still goes on. It doesn't stop because there's a public health crisis. And people with cancer, even if they have been treated and have no evidence of disease, are very vulnerable to infectious diseases. The disease process of cancer, depending on what organ systems it's attacking, as well as the treatment, not to mention the associated stress, goes on. So I hope all of those people with cancer, who are out of treatment, currently or recently in treatment, know that there are people out there who have your backs. We're not all dropping everything to work on COVID-19.

Right now it's hitting home in our family, my stepbrother is just getting started on a very scary and nebulous path to get treated for a blood cancer that rarely has good outcomes. His treatment was already delayed because of waiting 8 days to get COVID 19 test results. And he's getting the runaround of the healthcare system, which I strongly suspect would happen even if we weren't dealing with this pandemic.

So remember, please, yes, this is a dangerous time, it is a dangerous disease, especially for those who have additional health issues, but there are other things that are too important to lose track of.

Cancer still sucks as much as it ever has. And it's just as important now as it ever was.

So please save the accolades for the front line workers. I'll happily stay on the back end of this and keep plugging away at cancer. I'm don't want to be anybody's hero or angel, and I'm not.

Please, if you're looking for something to praise or adulate, go above and beyond in a different way. HELP NURSES! Do everything in your power to support those front line healthcare workers and don't forget them when the dust settles and we get to go back and resume our lives. Three things you can do:

1. Write your representatives in Congress, and your Senators, and tell them how important it is for healthcare workers to be taken care of both now and after this crisis is over, and that this should never ever happen again. And tell them you will vote accordingly.

2. And then, keep your word and stick by them after this crisis is over, so we can reform healthcare and make going to the hospital a less deadly experience for everyone, whether you are a patient or you work there.

3. And dammit, wash your hands and wear a mask when you go out! (Thanks to a former ICU cowowrker who reminded me to add this in...)


Saturday, April 4, 2020

We're all Zoombies Now: Hellfire and ZoomNation

Not having to go out sure saves a lot of time. This morning even though I have to work for a few hours, I feel unrushed and able to relax and enjoy. I made berry-chocolate chip muffins. I hung out with Dennis and the girls on the stairs this morning, having a group hug. It was so refreshing to be able to stop and enjoy the moment.

I hope that's what other people are discovering in this break from our insane pace of life in this country. And I also hope people are realizing that when the virus threat is minimized and we are all allowed to start easing back into our normal lives, that we intentionally try to make our new post-pandemic world much less stressful and chaotic.

I started my new job orientation this past week and that was a great distraction from everything else I've been focused on for the past several weeks since we all started staying at home. I'm a bit mentally overloaded with the learning curve but it's actually not bad. I look forward to resuming work next week and starting to get into a routine.

Since all of my work is remote and using Zoom, and my social life has also been on Zoom, and prior to this, my business work was on Zoom, I'm turning into a Zoom-bie. Or a Zoom-bot? Not sure what to call it. We live, work and play on Zoom now.

Before I started my job this week, I was focused on all the bad things about our world, and angry about all that's going wrong. I care a lot about healthcare and I am still beside myself with the way healthcare workers have been treated and neglected in this crisis, but that's a whole other blogpost, or even a whole other blog. I will deal with that later, I am hoping to be able to collaborate with grassroots nursing leaders and start planning and organizing a response to this. I think ZDogg summed it up very well in his recent video, which I'll link here. 

Here is another link to one of the better articles I've read during this debacle.

After reading this short article above, and watching this 8 minute video, let's all take a moment to step back and contemplate why what is happening now is just an outgrowth of a flawed and broken system. This is what I've been bitching about here since the beginning of this blog, but especially since around 2012. Now it's to the point of being done out in the open, shamelessly. They don't even try to cover their tracks, healthcare leaders have been getting away with this bullshit for so long, they think it's business as usual.

And healthcare workers bear some of the blame. They (we) deserve it, the people who won't speak up, who won't have each others' backs in the workplace, who say nothing when they see something wrong, dangerous, or unethical, who run away with their tails between their legs, afraid they will lose their jobs. Their precious jobs, that undercompensate them, exhaust them, make them sick and fat and old before their time, abuse them, allow them to be sheep for their fat cat masters? Now do you see why I've been saying this?






Yes, I am yelling. Anything that is happening, regardless of the CDC changes, regardless of what you've been told is the new policy, that goes against what you know to be right and safe and scientifically sound, go home and write it down. Document everything. Because when this is done, we need to hold these people to account. I hope to see massive resignations and firings of high level healthcare executives and top "leadership".

We need to burn our healthcare system down. TO THE GROUND. People who use fear of socialism and socialized medicine as an excuse for not changing, if you're so opposed to that, then don't cash your relief checks from the government. Because that is called a social safety net.

If you take advantage of free testing or waived copays for any medical attention as a result of COVID 19, you're using government healthcare-because that is called socialized medicine.

OMG! Socialism! The horrors! That people would actually be protected from being kicked out of their homes, utilities being shut off, starving in the streets. If a safety net horrifies you, go hang out in a megachurch and pray with thousands of other idiots somewhere down south. Do us all a favor. We could greatly improve our national gene pool that way.

Okay, I'll stop now because I said this was for a whole other blogpost.

Right now I am so glad to see people out breathing fresh air and moving, walking, as long as they are social distancing. It's exactly what everybody needed. Time to slow down, take a time out from our insane pace of life in this country, our addiction to consumer goods and services, and just be the human beings that we are.

Let's not go back to normal. Ever.

Friday, March 27, 2020

I Can't Even...

I've been gone a while. And it's not because I've had nothing to say. I have a ton of stuff to say and I don't even know where to start.

Here in Larimer County we are only on the first full day of a stay at home order, and honestly, it doesn't affect my lifestyle all that much. I work from home normally, and beyond grocery shopping I don't go out all that much. We do go out to restaurants a few times a month normally. I walk the dogs, and I run. I do socialize with a group of runners once or twice a week under normal circumstances. That's about it.

So now, I just work, walk the dogs, run, and occasionally grocery shop. Not that different. All my races and events so far have been cancelled, which is good. I can run anywhere, any distance, pretty much any time, so it really doesn't matter to me. It's not like I'm training for performance.

I need to bitch and vent a bit here but then I'm going to focus on some positive things and what I'm looking forward to, although without a clear timeline at this point. I'm feeling slightly depressed today, but it seems to be related to the lack of sunshine. Today happens to be overcast and foggy. When it's sunny out, I do much better. Today, I'm not doing so well.

As of the end of last year I stopped contributing monthly posts to a nursing online publication I've been writing for, for about 2 or 3 years. I couldn't come up with any more things to write about. And I just didn't care anymore. I didn't feel like anybody really cares about the stuff I think about. Nobody questions anything. I wasn't deriving any pleasure from writing it, either.

The local nonprofit I was working with, imploded, and the timing was perfect for me because I was suffering from burnout there too. And fortunately my side gig is turning into a basically full-time endeavor for me as of the beginning of next month. And it will be more hours than I want, but in a way, it will be a relief to not be spread so thin in a million different directions. Plus having a steady income and benefits will help.

I managed to lose some weight last year and now I've nearly gained it all back. My outlet of boxing classes is on hold for now, since everything is closed, and for good reason. Crazy shit has been happening in my family and to friends of mine. Just yesterday we lost a friend in our running community, Doug DeMercurio, husband of my friend Connie, father of my friend Marissa. It wasn't from coronavirus, but the social distancing aspect of end of life care and making memorial arrangements creates all kinds of unfortunate difficulties.

My stepbrother is very ill right now. He has myelodysplastic syndrome, which is a blood cancer that is often a precursor to acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Since his is very aggressive, they treat it as if it were AML. That means the option of a clinical trial and/or a stem cell transplant (bone marrow transplant). Except he is so sick that right now the only thing that has a chance of slowing it down and possibly getting him through to the point where he could have a transplant, is starting on chemo. And that has been delayed since he needed to wait 8 days for his coronavirus test results to come back as negative, and then there was another delay.

He went to a big name West Coast cancer center and they seemed more interested in getting him to become a research subject in their clinical trial, than in taking care of his needs as a human being. Not surprising to me, of course. But maddening. I finally had a phone call with him in which I laid out all of his options and started discussing the pros and cons of each, since the cancer center didn't seem to be capable of doing that. Including talking about advance directives.

My dad broke his hip last fall. He has recovered well physically from that, but he has Parkinsons and that presents a whole range of other issues. My stepmom is on double duty between my dad and my stepbrother. I've been down there 4 times since November and trying to provide some company for my dad while she goes out to California to see her son, and now traveling is not wise at all.

In a nutshell, F*** the ### in the $$$!

I won't even go very deep into politics here because it raises my blood pressure and makes me angry and I don't need to do that when I'm already stressed. I am not even one bit surprised at the idiocy that has further revealed itself among our politicians and citizens and healthcare executives. I have had to limit myself on social media because I read all the stories about nurses and doctors and I have too many friends who are nurses and doctors and I can't stand it. They are being exploited in ways that should never, ever have happened and it's a function of our for profit system and the worship of productivity and profit above people.

Yesterday I was out walking and ran into a former coworker from ICU. She's been there for many years. We talked over about a 12 foot distance. But she told me what I've been hearing from my other nurse colleagues across the country- one mask a day, you can go into work if you test positive for coronavirus as long as you don't have a fever. WTF?

She is a mom of young kids and I heard the pain and worry in her voice. She said there is so much anger among the workers. And of course the suits are nowhere to be seen. They tell the staff to go in and risk their lives and then they are fired or threatened if they speak up in protest of any of these dangerous policies.

Yesterday it occurred to me that all the emergency preparedness training and disaster training my husband had in his old position could have been put to good use over the last 8 months, except he changed jobs after them pushing him out of management. And he would have been paying attention to this virus threat and would have pushed for preparation, because that's who he is. Not sure the higher ups would have listened, but what a waste of all that training.

When this is all done I would like to think people will see how ridiculous our system of siphoning off all the resources to the wealthiest few in our country is, starving the infrastructure and the public well-being, so that we end up in crisis situations like this, totally unprepared. But I don't have a lot of hope. People are so damn stupid and there are so many of them.

Trying to go outside in my usual running routes right now is a joke. Normally I get plenty of solitude where I run, but lately people are out at all hours in droves. It sucks, because I hate people breathing down my neck or having to listen to their conversations within earshot. Right now it's impossible to escape people, and I do know some places I could go, but I don't have the desire or energy to drive that far.

I was supposed make this positive by the end. I'm not sick, I am okay. My husband is not sick. We have our beautiful, fun, sweet dogs. I can still go outside and run. I have a job. I have friends. I have a Zoom account. I use it to stay in touch with my friends and running buddies. But I am watching myself for slipping into depression, because people vulnerable to that, like me, need to pay attention early, and this whole situation and current circumstances are the perfect host for a raging torrent of quicksand.

I bitched. Now here I am with nothing much to say except I hope we learn something from this as a society. I hope people realize that government is there for a reason and that it needs to function. And that we're all in this together, and it's not about me, me, me like that orange boneheaded dimwit who is making things worse on a daily basis.

So I guess my positive thoughts will be to you, readers of this blog. Stay well. Stay safe. Wash your hands. Stay the fuck home. Six feet apart, or six feet under, your choice.

And when the dust settles, let's make this country, and our healthcare, something that actually serves its people and not a few rich ass, empty-headed, heartless motherfuckers.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Ome Mil Cempohualli: Across the Years 2020 and 1000 mile jacket

I'm back. I just took an unplanned 5 month break from blogging and pretty much all writing in general. No excuses, I ran out of words.

I haven't done much in the way of ultras either, I ran a 100k this summer with Felix, and then all hell broke loose. Pretty much the whole year was a series of hell breaking loose, but somehow we made it through to a new decade.

We'll have plenty of challenges ahead of us, but I really hope 2020 turns out to be a better year than 2019 was.

To sum things up, last year read like a textbook case of multigenerational aging trials and tribulations. In May, my mother-in-law broke her hip. About that same time, my husband was getting forced out of his management job at the hospital. He found a new job right away and in his own quiet polite way, told his old boss to go to hell, surprising her in the process. They wanted him to leave when they were ready to get rid of him, but he made the move first. I was so proud of him. There's nothing quite as satisfying as being able to tell your shortsighted, incompetent, Peter Principled superiors at work to fuck off.

Now he works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at a much less stressful, yet lower-paying, job, where he doesn't have to play babysitter on a salary. It hasn't been easy, not emotionally for him or financially for us, but you do what you have to do. And the thorn in our sides was we were making great progress on paying down our mortgage, until this, but, at least we have a roof over our head. I could say so much more, but things happen and this is the state of our country and for-profit healthcare system, and you know the rest...

We got through that mess by early summer, and then I was planning to do some long runs as I was preparing for Across the Years. This year I was within striking distance of the 1000 lifetime mile jacket at that race, I signed up for the 48 hour knowing that the remaining 103 miles would be pretty easy to finish in that time. I hoped I'd be able to run substantially more miles, but as the year went on, the family aging streak continued.

I did manage to run the LongView marathon inaugural race in Loveland, my first road marathon in who knows how many years. I did it mostly running and in under 5 hours, 4:51 I think was my finishing time. And then a few weeks later I planned to visit my parents in Arizona, since the year had been so chaotic I had not gone down there for my usual visits.

I arrived in Phoenix on November 2 for a 3 day visit, and on the morning of November 3rd, I was out on the canal enjoying a beautiful Arizona fall morning run when my phone buzzed at me. I checked it, and saw a text and voicemail from my stepmom. "Come home, dad fell, he thinks he broke his hip, the paramedics are here..."

I called her, and she said she was headed to the hospital. I ran home, took a quick shower and went to the ER, where my dad had been Xrayed and was was waiting to be admitted.

As things turned out, he had surgery that night, where they did what's called an ORIF (open reduction internal fixation) where they put a carbon fiber rod in his femur, and then he was in a hospital room upstairs. The drugs and anesthesia did not agree with him and the next few days were a haze of pain and hallucinations and delirium.

Thinking I would only be there for 3 days, I packed minimally and didn't bring my work stuff with me, but I wanted to be able to stay there and help my stepmom, especially when he made the transition to rehab after the hospital. My brother, who is also a nurse, was planning a vacation to start that weekend. So I flew home, grabbed my work stuff, and turned around and flew back before my brother left town. I stayed for most of the following week, including with my dad overnight in the rehab facility his first night.

I'm not going to get into it, but suffice it to say that rehab facilities, like any healthcare facility, are understaffed and patient safety is an afterthought to the administration. They have no idea what level of staffing it takes to keep delirious, confused, disoriented recent post-op patients from climbing out of bed and falling on the hard floor. My dad did it twice in the two weeks he was there. It was a learning curve for our family, because we have not had to deal with this in the past for any of our older relatives. And don't even get my dad started on the cafeteria food...he was truly living in hell for two weeks. We brought him as many homecooked or restaurant meals as we could.

My dad is now back at home, improving steadily, and when I was down there for Across the Years, he is doing so much better. It's a slow process and he's having lots of physical therapy, but he is much more independent and moving and transferring much more easily than before.

Two parental broken hips, upended retirement plans, and a job loss later, it was December and time for Across the Years and I had missed out on doing any more long runs. That really doesn't matter because I have the base and the mental capacity to make it through pretty much anything, as long as I stay slow. I managed to break a tooth two days before Christmas, so I had to go to the dentist and get a temporary fix before the race. Meaning I'd have to be mindful of what I chewed on that one side during the race, too.

Across the Years was shaping up to be a super exciting race this year for a number of reasons. Aside from the 1000 mile jacket, one of the runners I've known forever through ultras, Tracy, was getting married just after midnight at the event on January 1.
And there was the new years celebration, and my friends Connie and Marissa DeMercurio from Colorado were both running ATY for the first time. I asked them if they'd join me on the final lap as I finished the 1000th mile. And then the usual joy of being at ATY for me is seeing my Arizona running friends and others I know from so many years at ATY and Badwater and other ultra races I've run in my life. The tribe.

My usual group of friends from Colorado were mostly not there this year. Anne Watts was, she ran the 24 hour on the 29th and it was a hard one for her since she (and all of us) lost Matt last spring. But she was out there and we got a chance to talk and walk together. I am going to Kansas with her this coming spring for Prairie Spirit.

The Pence family-Anne, Eric and Ethan- missed out this year too, they had some other events going on. Sasquatch unfortunately got sick a week before the race, and during the race he texted me to tell me he had gone to the ER with breathing trouble. He was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia! Good thing he didn't try to come down and do the event. Fortunately he's home now.

I took it super easy the first day and night, I rented one of the small tents, I brought a sleeping bag, foam pad, and a pillow yes!, and pampered myself in the tent after just 50K, with a sponge bath, total change of clothing and socks and shoes, I even slept 3 1/2 hours each night of the race.

The second day I did the same. I ran only a total of about 6 1/2 hours through the whole event, the rest was walking, socializing, and hugs. I'm pretty sure that by the time I finished the race, I had received more hugs than the number of miles I ran.

I wanted to be finished with the 1000 early enough so I'd have time to enjoy the New Years midnight celebration and Tracy and Sally's wedding, and then just kick back and take it easy until 9 am on the first when my race was over. It worked out perfectly, I got done with 1000 miles right around 9 pm.

Connie and I finishing my 1000th mile
I enjoyed the festivities at midnight, had a glass of champagne and did the usual midnight lap. Then Jubilee, the race director, officiated the wedding ceremony. There were no dry eyes from what I could tell.

I wore my SpongeBob pajama pants while watching the few crazies participate in the underwear beer mile- it was COLD outside! Tracy and Sally tied empty cans to their waists and ran with the cans dragging behind them. There was wedding cake in the heated tent, and I have to say this was the most fun ATY ever.

I kept doing laps for a while but got tired and crawled in my tent after I had a few more miles on. I woke up late in the morning, but there was still time to spare for me to get another 5 miles or so. I ended up with 117.34 miles. It always seems like it takes forever to pack up afterward, but I did it, and drove back across town to Scottsdale, slept for a day and half, and then was able to visit and hang out with my dad, stepmom, brother, and sister in law.

And now I'm home, with Dennis and the Wranglas, feeling leg-weary but happy. There are some work-related changes on the horizon this year for me, and I'm continuing to work on improving at Spanish, and have started to pick up some- very limited- Nahuatl, because I have big plans for an adventure in central Mexico in the coming year or two, something I've been wanting to do for a long time but need to do before I get too old. More about that later.

And I've been enjoying the increased population of bald eagles who nest near the lake I run around daily, on most of my runs in the neighborhood.

Sushi in the aid station- THE BEST!

Mike Melton- our AWESOME timer
As I was running one of the hundreds of laps in ATY, I had a conversation with Martina Hausmann, the German runner who is almost up to her 5000 mile jacket. She said I would have to go for the 2000 mile jacket after this. And she's right. I would like to be able to do that, in less time than it took me to do the first 1000. If I live long enough. But what I really want as my next goal, is a Geezer hat, like the guys in the timing tent wear at ATY, including my recently-minted Geezer friend, Mike Melton. He told me I'd have to be 60 to get it. That's just a little over 4 years away.

Ma cualli yancuic xihuitl. (Have a happy new year)

Mike shows us how to have a good time!

My 1000 mile jacket and 100 mile belt buckle