Sunday, March 24, 2013

mental gymnastics

up 'til now, the girl's foray into gymnastics has been fun. and games. and mostly stress-free.

but this season things have been changing. incrementally, imperceptably, until suddenly, today, it occurred to me that this sport eats its own.

the past several weeks there have been injuries on the team. there has been crying and no-fun-having. there has been concern by the parents for the health of these still very young girls.

the risk has been there all along, of course. earlier this year a girl from another gym innocuously fell from the uneven bars and broke her neck. she's now a quadriplegic.

anything can happen to anyone, any time. we all accept this, or deny it, every day. but throw a vault or a beam or uneven parallel bars into the mix and a gymnastics parent either learns to tolerate risk or raises compartmentalization to an art form.

during a meet when a child, obviously hurt, stands crying on the other side of the gym, things get complicated. which is worse, the injury, or the embarrassment of a parent rushing over to render aid?

so you stand there, on a hair-trigger. watching as the coach does what she does ("are you okay? shake it off.") and teammates do what they do (hug. encourage. hug some more). the crying slows, and, improbably, two runs at the vault follow. it's not kerri strug at the olympics, but it's courageous just the same.

the girl is fine. at the end of the day, all the girls walked away no worse for the wear. heading to the car, smiles were everywhere, and tired girls complained they were "starving."

everything was good.

also, everything was different.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

vertigo bay

a hill.
greetings from san francisco.

i wonder what the earthquake forecast is today? i mean, i can't find a word about it on or or regardless, i'm hoping to increase my survivability by being outside, running.

turns out san francisco is a great place to run.

i wish i had known this when i lived here, back in the day. unfortunately, i didn't run much back then, except on a basketball court. i can tell you anything you want to know about some of the local basketball courts, if you want: they look like basketball courts.

you're welcome.

breaking news: seeing a place on foot is a richer, more nuanced, more viscerally profound experience than blankly watching it go by through a car window. and you can tell someone, "dude, i just had a rich, viscerally profound experience running around san francisco," but they won't get it. 

unless they've done something similar themselves, what they're likely to say is, "oh. good for you." then, when you're not making eye contact they'll think, "whatever," or roll their eyes, or they'll roll their eyes and think, "whatever" simultaneously.

most of the time they won't roll their eyes and say "whatever" to your face, but if they do you should probably change the subject. or look at your watch and say, "oh, wow, i've got to go talk to someone who's alive."

huge digression. sorry.

for anyone still reading, i'd like to report that my run through san francisco included a climb up lombard street. do you know this street? bill cosby did a bit on it back in the day... it's so steep, he said, that it's the only time he'd ever had a head-on collision with a hill.

the stairs on either side of lombard street are of a similar steepness, but i slogged up, took a look around at spectacular views to the north and south, then slowly ran down the other side. i wanted to run faster, but i was afraid i wouldn't be able to stop. or that i'd trip and do a faceplant in front of the golden gate bridge. i can't have that.

as mentioned earlier, i used to live in san francisco. plus, i've visited the city on business many times since then. but business trips being what they are (busy-ness), i never had time to revisit any of the old familiar places ~ a circumstance i lamented every time. this trip, due to recent events at spaceneedl sprockets, i was inspired to, shall we say, find some spare time.

where was i? right, heading north on lombard street toward the marina district, where the missus and i lived before the earthquake in '89. this was so long ago, she wasn't even "the missus" yet. which means we were living together. in sin. which is probably why there was an earthquake. god reportedly looks down on such arrangements and sends natural disasters to remind everyone to shape up or shake up. in fact, some megachurch preachers say He has that very bumper sticker on his car:

Shape up or shake up.

yeah, probably not.

heading into the marina, i stopped briefly at a couple basketball courts i used to run on. yup, these are those, i noted, with some affection. they still look like basketball courts.

i continued on to the very apartment building we loved so much (except for the loud, nonstop tour buses, of course, and the loud-swearing homeless guy and the loud gunshots from a car ~ we didn't love those things).

moved by the moment, i put my hand on the bricks, closed my eyes, and listened with my heart...nothing. they were just bricks, and they felt like bricks. still, i felt them...rough and solid and scratchy. i would not like to have felt them from a moving car, i can tell you that.

moving on, i ran toward the marina green, with its stunning views of the golden gate bridge, the marin headlands, and fog. usually when you have one (the fog) you don't have the others, but this day was splendid in that all three were present in equal measure. the effect was viscerally profound. no, seriously. i just stood there, smiling, trying to memorize every detail, every nuance of the bridge towers obscured by moving tendrils of gray one moment, illuminated by impossibly bright sunlight the next. the ageless, rolling slopes of the headlands rose above the north end of the span. the opaque green water of san francisco bay lapped against the seawall. it was glorious.

i gladly would have stood there past sunset, but there was an afternoon appointment that i couldn't quite bring myself to ignore. so i moved on to the south, where alcatraz pulled itself up out of the fog like an iguana climbing a desert rock.

fort mason followed, then a bigger-than-life sculpture of a formerly alive congressman, then a very steep stretch of hyde street. truthfully, i didn't want the fun part of this day to end, and now i noticed it was going by too quickly (full disclosure: hyde street went by much slower, and was slightly less enjoyable). left on sutter, back to the hotel. done. eight miles in all. 

but wait! there's more! there was the next day, with a whole 'nother serving of run-a-roni ~ seven warm, sunny miles along the embarcadero. when we lived there, this corridor was part of the 480 freeway, blighted by an elevated double-decker traffic monster. now it's a wide, open avenue along the waterfront, a great place for human traffic.

to sum up: two exquisite days, 15.2 miles, deep satisfaction. no earthquakes.

also, much-needed therapy for the soul: no extra charge.


i'm on my feet and moving...

Sunday, March 03, 2013

the business at hand

this is what i'm telling myself...


there's no time to grieve.

an extended period without healthcare coverage for this family is unacceptable. there can be no tolerance for risk on this.

finding a new job ~ with good benefits ~ is the only priority. the personal, the processing, the grieving, has to wait.


i'm on my feet and moving.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

for the better

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them

And we help them in return

Well, I don't know if I believe that's true

But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you

~ stephen schwartz


strange times at spaceneedl sprockets.

suddenly people who were there just last week...are no longer around. gone. poof. soon, i will be one of them. the quiet is deafening.

it took a while to find the right people, but once we did, it seemed there was nothing our little team couldn't do. no assignment was too big, no deadline too comically ludicrous. whatever was asked, we did the job, and we did it very well.

now, overnight, we are scattered to the wind...which we will eventually learn to live with, even after spending so many waking hours of our lives together. time will pass and this will happen. but it will not pass without a proper expression of gratitude...


brett: thank you for your tireless diligence and your endless reserve of patience. i have rarely met anyone as motivated as you. it's on you now. there aren't many who would be up for such a task, but you are one of them. the sky's the limit for you, my brother. choose well.

mj: time to bust out the sequim-tinis (i'll stick with the wine, if you don't mind). let's toast to the countless stories, the many laughs, the litany of good things we accomplished (thanks to your orchestration)...and a world where things actually make sense.

lilly: i don't know where to start. thank you for your technical wizardry and your seemingly effortless brilliance. i know there's plenty of effort involved, but you make it look so easy. your spirit soars, raising everyone around you. and your smile is better than cupcakes.

brenda: fired. hmm, i guess that's not so funny any more, is it. oh, what the hell, sure it is. thank you, my friend, for your silly humor, your inquisitive mind, and for not being your mom. you are so quick to learn, with more resolve than most anyone i can do anything, you know.

andrea: my first partner at spaceneedl sprockets ~ thank you for sticking with me through good times and, you know, not. i will never forget the sly wit, the raised eyebrow, the pitch-perfect delivery of endless movie lines. if god is in the details, you are the one who keeps track of them for him. you are the keeper of knowledge no one else can fathom. and none of us would have succeeded without you.

christina: in our too-short time together you taught me the zen of dealing gently with people. that wisdom is part of me now, and may be the greatest gift i've ever received. creatively, you raised the bar for all of us, a standard that will serve us well ~ wherever we go ~ forever. a thousand times, plus several more...thank you.

p.s. despite this, if you ever say the word "menses" in casual conversation again, i will have to kill you.


we worried this day would come, and now it's here. tomorrow it's likely several of our spaces will be empty ~ cleared of their familiar, comfortable warmth. passing by their doors, it will be difficult to hold it together.

deep breath. long exhale.

i'm profoundly grateful to all of you. 

we had a good run.


It well may be

That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have rewritten mine
By being my friend
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better
Because I knew you
Because I knew you
I have been changed for good