Thursday, December 31, 2009

Your New Year's resolution

I was fortunate this year to have your support, and the support of my five other loyal readers, for my ride to make brain tumors history. As I rode, it brought a smile to my face knowing that all of you were with me on that ride.

From your donation messages to me, however, it became apparent that while finding a cure for brain tumors is important to me, the problem is much larger. The problem is cancer itself.

In the same year in which we welcomed our new daughter, we also heard from friends who had lost family to cancer. We had friends who found cancer in their bodies and had to undergo treatment. These stories are in addition to the ones you already shared about loved ones you had lost in the past.

Perhaps it's because now it's my friends, people who are my age, people who I know, have known, and plan on knowing for the rest of a long lifetime...or perhaps it's because now that I have kids, I see the toll on people through a different lens, seeing the horror of a young child losing their parent...or perhaps it's because that list of stories just got too damn long and I finally snapped...

Whatever the cause, I'm doing something about it.

As I said, the problem is much larger, and so my response will be as well. That's why I've resolved to ride almost four times the length that I rode this year: 190 miles in the 2010 Pan Mass Challenge.

The ride contributes 100 percent of all donations directly to the cause of fighting cancer, and last year it raised over $30 million.

To complete the ride, I'll not only need to ride more, I'll need to raise more than I did last year. That's where your New Year's resolution comes in. If you can, I'd greatly appreciate your donation. If you can't, I'd greatly appreciate you helping me spread the word to others who might donate.

And if you can't afford it, think outside the wallet: you may not have or want to contribute money, but perhaps you want to help me design ads to distribute online--or maybe a jersey with donor names and faces of loved ones lost, or your kids want to send a picture along to encourage me, or you have some spare Clif bars lying around. I'll need dollars to ride, but there's also much more that goes into a ride than money, starting with love.

Registration opens on January 19, and I intend to be one of the first to put my name down for 2010.

Are you with me?

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Coming of age

Yesterday, 3B asked Mama, "When I'm five, will I still be me?"

If he didn't know before that he was the son of a philosophy major, he does now.

He followed that up with a discussion of death, asking Mama if she would die and later asking if he would die.

She answered in as matter-of-fact of a tone as she could muster while silently contemplating the horrible thoughts the conversation was rendering before her mind's eye that yes, they would both eventually die.

As she girded herself for the upcoming discussion of mortality, 3B turned to his stuffed animals and announced, "Mickey's in the circus! C'mon, Mommy!"

Mama told me all this as we had dinner with our friend, Aunt A, and discussed the weather, which is apparently about to turn frightful. As a bike commuter, I have a keen interest in meteorological happenings in my neighborhood, so after everyone had either gone home or to bed, I set about finding my warmer layers for tomorrow morning's ride.

It was something I had to do anyway, having discovered on Monday that the temperature at which my current layers cease to insulate me sufficiently is 30 degrees Fahrenheit. My heavier pants--fine, call them tights if you must--were easy to find in my winter bike wear drawer. My additional thermal layer and heavier coat are similarly easy to find in their places in the closet. However, my warmer gloves were more elusive.

Were they in the hat and glove basket in the closet by the front door? Which hat and glove basket in the closet by the front door? Perhaps in my personal items basket in the closet by the front door? Hm. No, the only gloves in there were my standard dog walking gloves, not used since last winter.

Which got me to thinking that I didn't commute by bike last winter, and those gloves are too heavy to wear to work on the bus or Metro. I would have only worn those gloves when we visited the farm and when it got cold enough here--and in both places only for walking Barky, which required being outside for long periods of time.

I opened the second hall closet, the one closer to the bathroom, and there, in the pockets of my down coat, were my warm gloves, faithfully waiting for me to return to them. They had stayed there since my last winter dog walk, when none of us knew how soon I would lose track of them, and none of us knew that before he turned nine, Barky would no longer be, and none of us believed that just because everyone dies sometime, that this year one among us would die before his time.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Leading with his axe

As a parent of two, one of whom is only three months old, I'm usually too busy or tired to write about how it is to live this life.

Fortunately, my family picks up the slack.

My brother just posted this nice video of 3B leading a bluegrass jam session through Puff the Magic Dragon. 3B did much the same at a birthday party this weekend where he found an unused guitar behind a buffet (seriously...I'm too tired to make up a detail like that), picked it up, started picking it (yes, I travel with a pick, just in case), and soon had a rapt audience of three-year olds and their parents as he ripped through the greatest hits of Rocknoceros.

The parents asked me if he was taking lessons.

When I worked in theater, I frequently reminded my boss that he couldn't pay me enough for some of the work I did--particularly the parts after midnight and between 60 and 80 hours per week. It was my way of reminding him, and me, that I was there not only for the money, but also because I liked the job.

So, no, 3B doesn't take lessons...from an instructor other than himself. Nobody is a better or more unforgiving or more demanding instructor than desire. 3B's lessons consist of listening endlessly to his favorite tunes and to any new music he can find and playing along whenever he can--much as my friends in high school and college learned every note of hundreds of songs.

But sometimes, it does help to have someone adjust your guitar strap and show you a few licks. Fortunately, we found the right spot for that, because, as my brother wrote:

It's not everywhere a three-year-old can go and get an eight-piece band to play a tune just for him, but my nephew has just the right mix of charm and genuine interest.

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