I Knew a Girl Named Nikki

I have been running early in the morning lately. I truly, truly hate it. More than just about anything. Have I mentioned how comfy my bed is? I have the comfiest bed. And it is very difficult to leave in the morning. But I have been. I’ve been getting up when it is still dark. I try to get out before six. About ten to fifteen minutes into the run, the sky starts to lighten. It’s nice. It’s cool and that is a significant plus for me. I have had some issues with migraines this summer and I feel like I need to blame them on the heat. The humidity. Not being hydrated enough. All of those things do not come into play at six in the morning. It is cool and there is less traffic. And there are the regulars that I see when I am out there.

There is an older haole man who walks up on Nehoa Street and always says good morning. There is another man who is at the other end of my run who I see on Wilder Ave. He does not say good morning and seems to be wearing the same outfit whenever I see him. Although I could be mistaken. And he might think the same thing about me. There are many dog walkers and a few other runners. Some that I pass on my way down into Manoa Valley.

It had been raining in the night so the overgrown grass in Manoa this morning was wet. That is one thing that I don’t like about earliness, the ground has yet to dry so I end up with wet feet. I am not a fan. But it is a small drawback in my mind. I never feel not safe. I know that my significant other does not love my new running schedule but it is good for me. After my post run panic attack in August, I like knowing that when I come home my family will still be there. That is good for me.

Today when I got to Punahou St. on Wilder, there was a woman running ahead of me. I knew that I would catch her up and I did. The sidewalks do not make for good passing so I jumped in the street. We greeted each other as I ran up next to her. And then she asked if she could run with me. One of the reasons I like running is the aloneness of it. I find that I come up with some really good ideas while I am running. I do not listen to music. I am just in my head. Sometimes my brain provides a sound track. This past Sunday it was “More Human Than Human.” I have no idea where that came from. But it was there. And I had a great run.

So this girl, on Wilder, asking if she could run with me. What can you say to that? Our pace was close. It wasn’t like I was going to take off and lose her. So I said yes. And then, we chatted. And, I kind of liked it. She introduced herself, her name was Nikki (spelling assumed). She lives over by Ward. She was running three miles. She has a seven month old. But the baby is actually her fourth child. She does her long runs on Saturday down into Manoa. This was the conversation that took place between Punahou and Pensacola (my turnoff) along Wilder. This morning before seven.

And, as much as I want to run alone, there was something about this that just really made me happy. Just the small act of reaching out to a stranger. And it was so small. And it is not something that I would generally be inclined even to do. But it really made a difference in my day. And I felt like I should return the favor. To someone, somewhere, in a small way, a small connection. Not easy for me. But I think that I will try.

But now I have an early morning run comrade. And I will be hoping to run into darling Nikki again one of these mornings. And maybe, if I run up on you, I will make you run with me. And I will make some small talk. And it will make your day. Maybe.

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Love You Terribly

Technology. Sometimes it is good. Sometimes not so much. Our son’s school uses a system called Gradelink. Through it we can check his assignments (most, the Social Studies teacher does not post them there), we can check the lunch menu to see if home lunch is required that day (shoyu chicken is a no go for some reason) and we can set up grade alerts. Basically the system allows you to set it up so that it will send you an email every time your child gets a grade that is above or below the threshold that you choose. I get alerts when my son gets a grade below a “C” (I do not condone a “C” but we have some tough math issues that we are trying to work through so for math, a “C” can be all right). I get alerts for grades that are higher than a “B”. Some days, there are a lot of alerts. Like yesterday.

 Yesterday was a banner day for super bad alerts for science. It started sometime in the afternoon. One “F”, two “Fs” and more. I think the total was five. The science grade went from somewhere around a B+ to a “C”. Thing is that I knew that he had done at least some of the assignments that the teacher thought had not been submitted. My son, after a bit of an anger issue where he blamed the teacher, emailed her and they are going to meet to sort it all out. He calmed down and took responsibility. I had told him that any “Fs” mean a loss of all screen time. I think that is what he was really angry about.

 And then, he was over it. He declared that it would be family game night instead of finishing up RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5. He baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies for me using my mom’s recipe. They came out great. Then he made dinner for us for one night this week (we cook weeknight dinners on the weekends). He chose a vegetarian recipe from the Portlandia (another of his favorites) cookbook that included mushrooms, quinoa and kale. I helped a little but it was mostly all him. He even toughed out mincing the shallots even though he was quite teary.

For dinner, we ate Thai food that we had picked up that morning at the temple in Pearl City. They cook and sell food that is very authentic. Then the three of us (his dad too) played a couple of rounds of Uno, and Old Maid and Dr. Who Clue. I don’t think that I won any of the rounds but we had a really good time. After his initial irritation about no screens, he recovered wonderfully. terribly-2

 Lastly, I had asked him to write a short note to my mom to put in a box we are sending to her. He is lending her a series of graphic novels. She had read one that he brought to NY over the summer. He thought that she would like to read the rest. On loan, of course. He wrote the note before leaving for school this morning. I decided to take a look at it after he left for school. He got down to business explaining that the books are on loan. He told her that he missed her. He missed her dogs. He missed my sister. But it was the closing that really got to me, it was, “love you terribly”. It wrenches me up and squeezes my heart. And I know that this one, fell super close to the tree, in a really good way.

 

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Worst One

So I confirmed the other day my dad has not passed away. He is not in a comatose state in a facility. As a matter of fact he was described to me as “doing pretty good.” I know that this type of information seems sort of no brainerish. But it’s not. And we are both to blame. We try, but not too hard. We reach out but we are easily defeated. If you asked us, we would both likely admit it. It is like a dance where neither of us wants to lead.

Over the summer, I had called the home of the family my dad stays with. He has a house but it is two stories and he is frail. The last time I spoke to him he was in a wheelchair. He moved in with the family of the woman who was coming to his home and helping to care for him there. The last time I called there, I left a message and I did not receive a call back. The time I called before that I did get a call back from the care facility that my dad was in. It was literally a five second phone call. He did not sound good. I could not really understand the woman that cares for him. She has a heavy accent. We communicate about as well as my dad and I do. So I never got a good handle on what was exactly going on.

The other night I had about of insomnia which, let’s be honest, is of the devil. While trying to sleep I thought of my dad. I thought that I did not know where he was. Or how he was. Or anything. The day before I had done what any grown up shirking their responsibilities would do, I called a family member to see if she knew anything. She did not but she knew who to call. There were no promises. There were threats that it may take a while to hear back. Of course I got the scoops right away. That morning as a matter of fact. My Aunts are the best. Seriously.

So I heard today that my dad is doing all right. That he sends me some hugs and that he lost his phone book which is why I have not heard from him in a really long time. This news made me pretty happy. I am glad. I am thankful. Maybe I will try to do better. Maybe he will find his phone book.

Aside from information gathering on my dad, I also had a really great conversation with my sister over the weekend. Again, I know what you are thinking, that is also a no brainer. But I am not a good sister. Like I am not a good daughter. But I am trying to be better. And on the phone the other day my sister and I had kind of an honest to goodness conversation. It was not me with my ear half on the phone listening to my sister talk about the Mets and the Giants. I was there. I was in the conversation. And I felt really good about it afterwards. It was so small for me but it’s really big for her. If I could be even half of how great she thinks I am, I’ll be doing really well.

So I am continuing to strive to be a better person. I can only chalk it up to the fact that I am approaching a large milestone birthday next year. The kind that makes you question many things in your life. The kind that makes you reflective and nervous about where you are. That’s where my head is at. Maybe these actions will help to make it all seem better. All seem all right. I figure, it can’t make anything much worse than it already is since there is so much room for improvement. Who knows where this could lead. The possibilities are endless.

 

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Sick? Not Sick?

I have not been feeling well. I have not been feeling well since the last month I was in New York visiting my family. I was having heart palpitations. I had a bad ocular migraine (like a regular migraine, all the aura, none of the actual headache usually). I had insomnia a few nights, which I would not wish on anyone. I had a burning sensation behind my eye. And that side of my head hurt. I tried to see a neurologist but by the time I could get an appointment, I would be back in Hawaii. At some point in NY I realized that my gum over my eye tooth was a little sensitive. Not the tooth, just over it at the gum. I thought maybe it was because I was grinding my teeth, something my dentist says that I do.

On my first day back to work here, the tooth actually felt a little sensitive. I called my dentist and made an appointment for the following day. As the day wore on, it got worse so I called back and asked if I could come that day. They said yes. When I got there, they took an x-ray of my tooth and informed me that I needed a root canal. Like right then. On the spot. My dentist started explaining the procedure to me but once he got to talking about the pulp, I asked him to stop. The actual procedure was not that bad. It was gross and long. And I almost passed out at one point. But it was fine. I was put on antibiotics for the infection in the root. The root of my eye tooth that is way up in my face, under my eye. I was feeling hopeful that this was it. The answer. The solution. And, I actually think that it was, mostly. Although my eye sometimes still seems overly sensitive so I take off my glasses. I can’t see but it feels better that way. I am going to see the eye doctor soon.

Then, on Friday, while running, in the first mile of my run, I had an ocular migraine. If you do not know what it is like to have an aura, you are lucky. For me, it starts in my field of vision. It ls like when you look at the sun and the light is temporarily burned into your eye and stays with you. It’s like that, but then it doesn’t go away. And then, I have this light show going on in my field of vision. Squiggly geometric shapes that eventually work their way to the edge and disappear. But while I have them. I can’t see. I can’t drive. So there I was, one mile into Manoa. Like an idiot I ran out of the valley one more mile before I walked the rest of the way home. By the time I got there the aura was done. I drank some electrolytes. I IM’ed with my boss.

Then, all of a sudden, I felt like I was going to pass out. And just as quickly my heart started pounding. Racing. I called 911. I hung up. I called my significant other. He stayed on the phone with me and said that he would come home. He got home and told me I should to the ER (I had been there about two weeks ago for said migraine symptoms where they pumped me full of medications and fluids). I did not want to go. But I felt like I was going to pass out. We got in my car. We were in front of the Makiki fire station when I told him that I did not think that I could make it. I told him to go to the fire house. We pulled in and knocked on the door. They were so awesome. They took my blood pressure and pulse. They gave me water. And most of all, they were not concerned. They helped me slow down my breathing. I ended up in the ER again. In the ER, they asked me some questions, they gave me something to “relax” and they put me in a dark room. When this is the treatment you get in the ER, basically, there is nothing wrong with you. My official papers say that I was treated for a migraine. They make no mention of my feeling faint. Or anything of the like. Like it didn’t happen. Apparently, it was an anxiety attack. A panic attack. Although, no one said those words to me, except my significant other. Whatever it was, it was something that did not need treatment. It is also something that I never want to experience again.

There is a chance that perhaps my issue is hormone related. I have taken the plunge from pre-menopausal to menopausal (sort of) and I need more help balancing my hormone levels. I had my blood tested and looked at the ‘meaningless to me’ numbers that were made available to me. They made more sense in graph form, compared to the same test a few years ago, they were all showing a giant downhill drop, like a ski slope. I plan on talking to my gynecologist tomorrow, or at least her physician’s assistant.

I have to say that I feel like I have been left to my own devices by my primary care physician. And I don’t like it. I want her to help me. Guide me. Reassure me. Instead, the last time I saw her, she asked what we should do. This is not a question you ask a medical googler. I really want her to be the voice of reason but I also want to feel like she gives a shit about me. And I’m kind of not feeling that at the moment. I am hopeful that this will pass. That I will start to feel like myself. Instead of a sad faker of me. Because it’s no fun feeling sick. Even if everyone tells you that you are not.

 

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Time

Today is a not a happy day. It is a day filled with sadness. I listened to NPR’s coverage for hours and then it was abruptly over. I don’t know why I kept it on. It was an endless loop talking about panic and carnage. The shooter was identified and discussed. It was depressingly like the 9/11 coverage. And now there will be victims identified, there will be more vetting of the shooter and fingers pointed at federal agencies which did not arrest him or somehow detain him. It is just awful.

Tomorrow I leave for NY. For my annual summer sojourn. I know that this should make me happy and it does, really. But for me, and maybe for other individuals in similar situations, the time, it seems to begin slipping away from the moment I purchase our tickets. As soon as it gets close to the day we are going to leave, my brain starts to calculate how little time I have in NY until we have to return. Return for the start of 7th grade. To get back into the grind. To not see my family and friends for another year. It hard to embrace the time, and it is significant, the time. I think that the problem is that no time is enough. And that is the bottom line.

I live in Hawaii. And it is beautiful. And maybe because I have lived here for so long that I don’t see Hawaii any more sometimes. That I live here. And I work here. And I raise my kid here. And yes, the ocean is spectacular. And yes, the mountains are lovely. And yes, it never snows, at least not where I am. And all of those things are good. I can’t complain about those things.

Thing is, I’m from NY. My family is in NY. My best friends. And I see them once a year. I see them during this summer window. And that is it. So when I go home, it does not feel like a vacation. It feels more like a small amount of time being used to somehow cram in a year’s worth of living. This is not possible. It never is. And it almost always results in some bruised feelings. Some time that was supposed to be spent that ended up someplace else. It is a delicate dance and one that I am not good at.

So we leave tomorrow. We will arrive early Tuesday. We will likely stop at a diner somewhere near Sheepshead Bay. I will eat an omelet stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. It will be delicious but I will likely not be able to get rice with my eggs. But the clock will be ticking. Ticking away. From that time, all the way through. And I know that I should just be more grateful. And I try. But it is not easy.

 

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Voices

On my birthday, many people called me. My mom and my sister, they are serial callers. I talk to them every weekend. But then out of the blue, my Aunt also called me. She was going to call me earlier in the day but with the six hour time difference between New York and Hawaii these days, it was only a quarter after five in the morning. I would have been asleep and there is a high likelihood that I would not have picked up. So she sent me an email instead at that time telling me that she had been planning on calling instead but that it was too early. I was impressed that she had emailed me. But then, there she was, calling me at a much more Hawaii friendly time. And I did pick up. And it was great to talk to her. So great that we both wondered to each other why this wasn’t something that happened more often. And who knows, maybe it could be. A thing. A thing that happens more than once year. I would like that.

Then, way later in the day, one of my closest friends from NY called me. I was in the process of dealing with a minor emergency and trying to get all of the things together to go and pick up my son from school. School pick up requires snacks and a drink. When he was younger, he would get really angry if the snack was not to his liking. I generally bring a choice of snacks. Sweet and savory. So that he can choose. Unless I am running late. Or forget. Then I face the snack wrath. So this conversation was kind of cut short. But it was good to hear his voice. We are headed to NY in a couple of months and will invade his home while we are there. He is so gracious. If he didn’t do this, I don’t know where I would stay. I have learned from experience that I really can’t stay with my mother. But that is another story.

Today, again, while I was about to leave to go get my son again, an old co-worker who has since moved to Oregon gave me a call. It was so good to hear his voice as well. We had not spoken in a while. He has a young son and his wife is in law school. They will be moving into their newly purchased home shortly. I am so happy for him. So happy for his family. I love that they are really making it in their new state. I hope that when I finally get myself to Portland that I am able to meet up with him and have some beer. And some good food. And to catch up.

Finally today, in the school pick up area, I ran into one of the dads picking up one of my son’s classmates. I had not seen them since probably last year. We talked about all of the homework that our kids have to deal with in one particular subject. About how we both feel that the teacher is young and trying to prove her worth. Which may or may not be accurate in any way. But we both feel that way. He told me that his son may be transferring to another school. A school designed to better help him out. He has been struggling with work and with depression. He is only 11. I hope that it works out for them. It was a nice chat and I felt buoyed by the discussion.

When I got home I reflected on this. All of this actual phone talking and discussing over the past few days and marveled at what an oddity it has become. And also how entirely wonderful it was. There are so few conversations I have via phone these days. How I feel like I don’t want to actually speak to anyone. How, texting seems so much more preferable. But after these past few days, I think that I am wrong. I think that it is so much more human to talk to someone. To hear their voice. To hear their laugh. Their emotion. It is so much more that I think that I may need to change my evil texting ways. To hear the people I love. Their breath and life. Their feelings. Laughter and love. So if you see my number, pick up, OK? I may just need to hear you.

 

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Birthday

When you get to be a certain age you face birthdays with a bit of trepidation. You know that there will be little celebrating. The likelihood of no presents. And the fact that you will be at work and it will be just another day for the majority of those around you. Today is not my birthday.

I generally work from home and like it just fine, thank you very much. I had to go to the office today for a spate of meetings. That is fine. I expect that to be the case. I almost enjoy actually seeing other people and talking to them. Socializing, I believe it is called. Today while at the office, I got a call from my other half saying that our son was “sick” and he was called to school and had picked him up. Our son said that he was feeling like he was going to throw up. We both thought that his nausea was brought on by the fact that he had basketball practice today with his very yelling prone coach. I was irritated but if he had to come home sick, at least he wasn’t actually vomiting.

By the time I was able to come back home, my son had eaten the home lunch that I had packed him. All of it. I forced him to do all the homework due tomorrow. Some of the homework due on Friday. And one of the things that he said had been completed but hadn’t been. After all of this was complete we were chatting a bit. This is when I discovered the true reason my son had left school. Apparently one of his lovely classmates had made a disparaging comment to him about me, of all things. He has been teased about me before because I have short hair. I thought that was kind of lame. Today it involved me and male parts that, well, I really don’t possess. And my son got upset. He told me that he wanted to throw a chair at this boy and of course, part of me sort of supported that, but the very PC mother part of me told him that he would be the one to get in trouble if he did that. He told me that he left the class, went to the bathroom and then headed to the health room. I am thinking that I am going to have to contact the head of school. This is not the first time my son has had a problem with this boy. A while back he had convinced my perfectly normal weight son that he was “fat.” This was very troubling to me. Was I going to end up with an overly body conscious teen if this was occurring at eleven? But we talked it out and the email was never sent. It may be time.

This evening I spent part of my night doing my son’s extreme dot-to-dot book. They are fairly addicting (ask my mother) in that they often go up to near one thousand and you have no idea what the picture is until you are pretty far in. The book I was doing was the American History themed one and the first picture was of the Boston Tea Party. They were truly rocking the boat. I decided to do another since the first one was sort of stress relieving. The second was a picture of a 1960s flower power hippie chick. She had long hair with those glasses and was making a peace sign. I figure that my reaction to the school incident should lie somewhere between these two dot outcomes. Somewhere between raising a ruckus and going down there and giving this kid a hug, which I am in no way inclined to do.

Tomorrow is my birthday and I am glad for it. I know too many people who are no longer celebrating theirs. Or who are hoping for an opportunity to celebrate at all. And I hate my wrinkles. And I hate my bifocals. But the universe is very clear regarding the alternative so I’m leaning Boston Tea Party on this. The aging thing. What is it they say?……”getting old is not for sissies.” I’m trying to not be a sissy. I’m trying to do the right thing. For myself and for my son. Sometimes it is all just unfair. And there is no room for flower power. Like now.

 

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