I’ll be the first to admit – I’m not politically active.

They bore me, they confuse me. For my professional life, I was trained to be objective, unbiased, and I carried that in to my personal life. I don’t debate because I know I don’t know all sides of the story. I don’t like arguing, I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like being told I’m wrong. Some call that lazy or ignorant.

But I have a job. I pay my bills. I try to adult as best as possible. I’ve worked hard to get where I am. I have food on my table and a roof over my head. Stay the course and all will be fine.

I kept my ear kinda open this election season, but not too much because it all turned into white noise. I tried to listen to the debates but my brain just shut down and absorbed nothing. I just followed the wrap up stories afterward for highlights.

My general view on politicians is not the person themselves, but the people they choose to advise them. That’s what scares me.

I unfollowed as many of my FB friends as I could who were posting political stuff 24-7. I didn’t see my first old-fashioned presidential candidate TV commercial until the night of Game 7 of the World Series, seven days before the election.

I was going to write in myself, vote for Gary Johnson or Hillary. Regardless of where I filled in my little dot, it still felt weird, hard, confusing, heartbreaking. I couldn’t figure out why though. I asked myself, “Why do you care so much?”

And now, I’m experiencing feelings I did not know I had about politics. Or the future of our country.

I, like others, felt decent that Trump was not going to take the presidency. I tried to avoid FB all day on Tuesday, and didn’t really check any results until just before I went to a meeting at 7 p.m.

At 8:15 p.m., Lana and I leaned over her phone. Trump was winning. 209 – 168 or something ridiculous. We stared at each other in disbelief.

My stomach dropped. And didn’t stop. It still hasn’t stopped. I knew that despite what happened Tuesday night, we’d all wake up, still with jobs, families, values, morals.

But I know it’s what’s down the road that scares everyone.

I get it. We need turnover in political environment. Break the elitism. Were these the two to do it? We all constantly heard no, and was sorely disappointed that our country of more than 300 million people couldn’t have had better popular candidates.

Do we need someone with political experience, familiar with that realm, environment, and is diplomatic? Can reach across the aisle? Yes.

Do we need someone with business and financial know-how to help run the business of government, which, as someone who works for a government agency, knows it is ALL ABOUT managing finances to get the right things done? Yes.

Are these the two to do it? Despite whatever horrible things they’ve done, said, portrayed, pontificated?

These two have zero reality of the majority of the American population. They are SO out of touch.

I only watched and read about an hour of the results before I turned it off. In a situation when a majority is upset and freaking out, my gut reaction is to play Devil’s Advocate – Sure, he’s said all these horrible things and can’t talk his way properly out of a paper bag, but let’s look at …

Then I think, yikes. NO. No way.

Then the commentators this morning started reviewing his campaign promises. From what it sounded like to me, he will be UNDOING EVERYTHING EVERY PRESIDENT BEFORE HIM HAS DONE, DESPITE POLITICAL LEANING.

Things that have led us to where we are today.

Now, of course, many will argue that those things have led us to current state of greatness or current state of disaster. So, there’s no trying to debate that.

A commentator this morning put Paul Ryan and Trump side by side and ticked off all the things they disagree on, despite being from the same “side.”

It was EVERYTHING.

*sigh*

My father.

For the past 18 months, he’s been saying, “Don’t underestimate Trump.”

Whenever my father makes a declaratory statement, and my gut knows he’s probably right but my heart wants to doubt him, he always turns out right.

For the love of America, I hope you’re bloody right, Dad. Jesus Fucking Christ, I hope you’re right and he proves us all wrong. I can only hope that someone comes in and sedates him, putting to sleep his horribleness as a person and pulls out whatever teeny tiny business sense he does have to balance a government budget. That is absolutely the best I can even possibly muster for finding something positive out of this entire situation. But even that’s a tiny sliver of hope that my gut is not happy with.

The only other positive takeaway is listening to my sister tell me how her 5-year-old son has been listening, paying attention, absorbing information and making his own decisions the past few months. He and his mother both voted for different candidates. Neither of their candidates may not have won, but I could not be more proud of them and especially, him.

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That picture above. Right there. It’s gorgeous, right? Only a few miles from the road, yet wonderfully rugged. The North Cascade Mountains in Washington State. Hours from home. Fresh air, steep terrains, squeaky pikas, bear prints in the snow, flowing mountain streams. Stuff I’ve been traipsing in and around for almost 10 years.

I had a panic attack in the valley. Deep in the forest. Just out of the photo frame. Bottom right.

—–

This was part of the Annual Ladies Backpacking Trip. Organized by one of my favorite outdoor ladies, it was guaranteed to be a good time. Get in a heart-pounding hike up and over a few ridges, with the potential to camp by a lake and even bag a peak. Most of us on the trip are constantly hiking and climbing with boyfriends/husbands/male partners, so the women’s trip is a refreshing change of company.

Despite all the promise of a trip with lovely company and views, part of me wanted to stay at home and just … stop. I’d just ended five months of absolute insanity. It’d been two weeks since the last of it, ending with the massive bike ride from Seattle to Portland.

I even complained to Maria a week before the trip. “I’m so exhausted and tired, I have no desire to leave my house.” No, you have to go, she said, don’t bail. I’ll even drive.

* sigh * Ugh. OK. I guess.

As email traffic increased leading up to the trip, I started to get excited. I started packing Monday night, even though we didn’t leave until Friday morning. I also had no choice, as apparently my life of insanity had not stopped and I had no time Tues-Thurs evenings to pack. I also was determined to go as light as possible, so I gave myself time to go through my gear and ditch things (and, well, buy a smaller pack). I eventually got down to 17 lbs of gear and 13 lbs of food and water = 30 lbs in a 50 liter pack, with room to spare! That’s a RECORD for me. However, just before we hit the trail, I added meat, which brought my pack up to 41 lbs, the heaviest of the group. FAIL. Seriously, 11 more pounds of food? I was so mad at myself.

We met the other five women at the trailhead and heartily started up our first trail: 4 miles and 3,000 feet to Easy Pass. With all the chattering and excitement, that seemed like a piece of cake and before we knew it, we were having lunch three hours later at the pass in the shade, with Fisher Basin open before us.

From there we could see the rest of the day’s route: drop down to the valley, climb out the southern end of it, scramble up and over some rocky ledges (a.k.a. “The Cakewalk”) and then drop down to Silent Lakes for base camp. Great! (Even if “The Cakewalk” looking nothing like that).

We started down to the valley, dropping 1,500 feet in 2 miles, under the oppressive heat of the July sun, and swarmed by mosquitoes and black flies. We reached the bottom of the valley near Fisher Camp and turned southeast, following a rough boot path with some log hopping.

At this point, I was doing OK. I’d enjoyed the climb to the pass, but something started to bother me on the way into the valley.

It started slowly with a sense of not wanting to be there. I felt guilty about that but then those feelings started to get raw: Damn my pack is heavy, why the hell did I pack so much food, I was totally cool with 30 lbs last night, I’m so exhausted, I guess I’m still trashed from the past few months, damnit it’s really hot all I want to do is go home I want to be in my gardens if I’m going to work this hard I want it to be at my house working with iced tea brewing on the backporch and feeling a sense of accomplishment why do I do this to myself–

Then came on the shallow breathing followed by a racing heartbeat, then a feeling of suffocation.

Maria was just a few yards in front of me.

“Maria?” my voice breaking to my surprise, and then suddenly feeling myself mentally, emotionally and physically crumble. “I’m… done. I’m just … done.”

She turned toward me.

“Oh, yes I know I am too. We bit off more than we can chew. And it’s really hot right now.”

“No, it’s not that,” I said as we met in the middle, my trekking poles dragging behind me like a toddler with a blanket. “I’m, like, DONE. I can’t go any more. I’m just …”

I then burst in tears and collapsed in her arms, and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.

Like body-goes-limp-but-trying-to-catch-my-breath-while-trying-to-get-it-all-out-sobbing. I can’t remember the last time I cried so hard.

Maria held me for awhile before she gently guided me to a log to sit down and collect myself while she went to catch the girls.

I sat there dumbfounded, numb. I wanted to turn around and march right back up that hot hill and then back down to the car. It was only 5 miles. It was not hard. I knew I was still trashed from the past few months but I didn’t realize it would hit like this. I’m supposed to enjoy these types of outings. These types of outings are supposed to relax me. Take me away from everyday life.

When Maria returned, she didn’t have her backpack, which immediately crushed me.

“We’re going to stop just a little ways up here and make camp,” she said. “We won’t go all the way to the lakes and one of the other women is pretty done too. The heat is getting to all of us.”

“Oh… I was hoping we could go home.”

“No, now that’s silly. We’ve come all this way. We can’t leave now. We can just sit in camp, we don’t have to do anything.”

With a heavy sigh, I got up and trudged on. My body felt heavy but my head was completely void of emotion. I was just floating now. Not really engaged but still aware of my surroundings: that creek we had to wade, the boulder field we had to navigate, help make decisions on where we’d camp that night. Just barely.

But I continued on. Our group made the decision to camp below The Cakewalk and the next day, those who wanted to could do a trip up to Silent Lakes and Fisher Peak.

We camped on a rocky outcrop with established tent sites, with a stream to our left and a snow patch to the right. The southern end of the valley rose above us, with Fisher Basin behind us. We established campsites (Maria had to call my name a few times to get my attention as I stood there mindlessly just holding one end of the tent as she was trying to set it up), rinsed off in the creek, changed clothes, pumped fresh water, had dinner and drank snow-ritas (margarita mix and tequila poured over cups of snow – WAY better than anything served in a restaurant.). We shared stories of previous trips and read outloud from the trip’s Official Literature, “Woman’s World Weekly.”

I explained to the ladies that I didn’t think I had the mental capacity for the climb the next day. They completely understood, and said they’ve been in my place before, where all you can manage is just one foot in front of the other just to get to camp. I was so thankful for these ladies. I may not have been all “there”, but I knew I was safe. If there was an emergency, I could snap into rescue mode, that wasn’t problem. But, at this particular moment, I didn’t have to do anything. I could just … be.

The next day, I woke up only feeling a bit better. Still in a funk but at least rested. I was wondering if I’d step out of the tent and see the day’s objective and wonder if I’d be struck with the usual “OMG I should go, I’ll feel guilty if I don’t, I came all this way, I should take advantage of this, I’m weak if I don’t go!”

Nope. Nothing. I mean, I felt a slight twinge of desire to scramble something but not necessarily do the weekend’s objective. I could have climbed to the edge of valley to peek over the other side, but I also felt completely OK with just staying in camp. Maria would be staying too. In fact, I entertained the idea of a nap after breakfast.

After the ladies took off for their climb, I straightened up camp, organized my food and took stock of what I had (why the hell was my bag so heavy?) and made it an objective to eat as much food as possible during the day, even if it meant stuffing an entire block of cheese, several landjagers and a log of sausage down my throat over the next 12 hours.

After I finished my food organization and made a list of lighter gear to research, I moved to the tent to organize my other gear. Maria was reading inside, shaded and away from the bugs.

“So what are you doing there, Tiff?”

“Oh, just organizing, putzing, nesting … Wait! I’m NESTING! Which is what I want to be doing anyway but just right now it happens to be while I’m seven hours from home and in the middle of nowhere!”

We both laughed.

That’s when I realized it.

It took me being in the wilderness to force myself to stop. To put myself in an environment free of any stressors, to simply just survive. To not be distracted by anything. No projects to tackle (even if that’s what I thought I wanted to do). I love being in the outdoors for those reasons – to simply survive and not think about all things I should be thinking about.

How to mitigate the bugs, what layers should I work with right now, when should we fill up the group water jugs, how much food can I eat today, when can I steal Maria’s book after reading Woman’s World Weekly from cover to cover again…

After coming to that realization, I finally relaxed, finished my putzing, then took my pillow and sit pad out of the tent, laid out on the ground and thought, “Here’s the vacation I’ve finally wanted. It may not be on a beach, but it certainly was warm, outside and quiet. No family, no work, no Internet to distract me.”

And I was OK with it. I even took that nap.

Later that night, when the ladies came back from the climb, the first thing Eileen did was march right up to me, embrace me, and exclaim, “Smart decision!” Apparently that climb was not for the faint of heart. Or the mentally unstable.

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Back to my regular self

By this point, I was back being OK with life. I also made a few decisions, such as to truly zero in on my desires in the moment (mountains, city or home?). I also realized the mountains weren’t where I wanted to be this summer. I’d been biking since March and really loved it this year. So I mentally cancelled my Mt. Baker trip that was in two weeks. Once I made that decision, and started making plans for fun things to do around town for the month of August (including more bike time and yard time and yoga), I started to feel immensely better.

Just because it’s summertime in the Northwest doesn’t mean it always needs to be spent in the mountains. In fact, I LOVE my house in the summertime. The front porch is great for sunsets. The backyard (when it’s weeded and cleaned up) is cozy and lush. The light in the morning in the living room is lovely.

Then there is the question – am I living the life I want? Every year, I’m faced the issue – I want to do EVERYTHING. With EVERYONE. I need to climb mountains to stay strong for mountain rescue, which I absolutely love, almost more than life itself. I want to kayak though. I want to enjoy Seattle in the summer, with picnics with city friends in the little city parks. I want to spend time at home enjoying my investment. I want to be closer to the water these days, and not be far away in the mountains.

How do you find balance so not to burn yourself out or be overwhelmed?

Talking with a friend the other night, he said, you just have to learn to say no. Truly listen to what you want to do and do it. It doesn’t make you weaker or less of a person if you don’t climb mountains all the time, or decide you want to have an in-town weekend, or if you want to do yoga all the time instead of sports, or embrace your new found love for biking, or pick up a water sport.

Fay offered a quote that stuck with me: “You have to let go of the life you expected in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”

Basically – go with the flow. Do what you want. Do what makes you happy.

Three days after that emotional backpacking trip, I was sitting at a campground on the Pacific coast. I was there for two days of work but I couldn’t bring myself to find a hotel or sleep in the Jetta. I wanted to sleep as close as possible to the ocean. So I tossed the tent,  sleeping bag and pillow in the car. A few snacks. Backpacking stove and a dehydrated meal for my dinner, which I delightedly and slowly ate on the beach as I people-watched. I could feel the sticky but refreshing layer of the saltwater on my skin. I’d been excited by the idea of sleeping by the ocean, by myself. Ironically, all completely forced by logistics of work.

And maybe my friend is right.

Maybe I should buy a surfboard.

I don’t know how to start this one. All I know is that I want to write down everything about this weekend (and this season) because I’m in the post-event funk and don’t want to forget anything. And it’s faster for me to type than to handwrite in a journal.

And, should I do this again in the future, remember what to do and what not to do.

Training (i.e. How To Get Your Friends To Train With You):

For the time I had, I think I did the best I could. Beth brought up the idea in January, and I signed up in March. Between supporting a conference, making two trips to the East Coast, making two quilts, helping manage a film project, ending a relationship and completing some major work projects, then pumping out at least one or two short rides a week (sorta) and one long ride a weekend, (with some spin classes thrown in for good measure, so I thought) every little bit helped.

Doing a variety of rides on the Olympic Peninsula, in Kitsap, and in Seattle, and having a variety of training partners (even if I did have to bribe most of them with beer and food) kept rides interesting.

But by end of April, I was already burned out on training, especially the weekday rides. They just weren’t fun. I was by myself, exhausted after a day of work and stressed about getting in miles/time on the seat. Plus I was doing spin classes, again just to get more time on the seat. I lost a ton of weight quickly and was eating all the time, which was great, but I also was dealing with sore hips and knees, which wasn’t great. I dialed it all back a bit, dropped the spin classes and focused on developing fun long rides for folks to join and things got a little easier. Plus, with all of Kitsap’s hills, I learned the correct direction to ride the county, so I wasn’t climbing ALL the time.

Training took me to different parts of Washington I’d never normally get out and explore, such as the countryside north of Seattle, the Key Peninsula and the Olympic Discovery Trail between Sequim and Port Angeles. Some of these included the occasional fun supported rides where, frankly, you ride for the free food, with the benefits of beautiful views.

I learned how shop rides can be full of jerks, how riding with your friends is way more fun, how it is possible to find fun riders who aren’t jerks and who become your friends, and how friends you hang out with already can become bike partners.

Also, fun names for every training ride is required: Crazy Train; Flying Guinea Pigs; Four Dudes and A Lady; Suck It Up Buttercup and Ride; Taco Pizza Cat, Animal and Hot Pants; Sea2Issy; Sea2Issy: The Ladies Ride; The Bakery Tour of Kitsap (Bikes, Beers and Baked Goods)… I know I’m missing a few.

Sometimes, a solo ride WAS cathartic, such as on an early beautiful weekend morning, before traffic gets crazy in Silverdale and you’re done with 20 miles by 9:30 a.m., and the whole day is still ahead of you.

I learned how to retape my bars, adjust my brakes, ride without a seat bag and with only minimal gear, how my front derailleur works and how much mine sucks, and that I really need to build a bike stand in my garage so I can do maintenance.

I definitely felt myself get stronger (most the time). Hills get me excited (mostly) but so do long fast flats. Riding in the most powerful gear on my granny ring got easier and easier over the season. When my big chain ring worked, that was even more fun.

Don, who has been teaching me to ride road and mountain bikes on and off again for 13 years now, was most appreciated. I kept his advice in my head throughout the training season.

Food:

Kind bars. Gels. Cliff Shots. Vitalyte is the only electrolyte drink I should stick with. Everything else is horrible. Why and how Nuun works, I have no idea. It reminds me of diet soda, which is terrible in the first place. And Gatorade. Only in a pinch. That stuff is disgusting unless your body is shutting down and literally needs liquid sugar. Stepfanie’s Calorie Bomb cookies were dense but great on the road.

Beer mid-ride is fun. Homemade cookies 10 miles down the road after said beer is more fun. Beer and burger post-ride is the best.

STP WEEKEND:

SO, the weekend comes. July 16-17. Our original team, Beth, Joe, Matthew, Margo and myself, changed bodies a few times. Matthew and Margo weren’t able to ride, so we found Chris and Kristen. At the last second, Chris and Kristen aren’t able to ride, so it was down to the original three. However, at lunch on Day 1, we pick up Greg, so a nice little team of 4.

Logistics for the day before the ride and getting to the start line took on a life of their own for months before finally being narrowed down. I wound up going into Seattle Friday night at 7:45 p.m., being picked up by Beth at the ferry, going to UW to drop off our overnight bags, picking up pasta and salads from Olympic Pizza III, making a breakfast quiche for the next morning while Beth picked up Joe from the airport, then me going down the block to Reba’s to spend the night at 11 p.m.

Up at 5:15 a.m., at Beth’s by 5:35 a.m., inhaled aforementioned quiche, biked from Capitol Hill to the start line at the E-1 parking lot at University of Washington and dashing from the start line at 7 a.m.

The idea of 100 miles in a day was still a bit daunting, so I broke it down mentally by segments of 25 miles. That’s do-able. 25 miles is a piece of cake.

The route took us along Lake Washington for several miles, which was lovely. Then it dumped us into the industrial complexes for the next 20 miles south of Seattle, before our first major rest stop, sponsored by REI. We’d heard the REI stop was legendary, so we were excited to check it out.

Nope. Sorely disappointed. Not sure what I was expecting (Maybe something along the lines of what Flying Wheels event did for food, which was every possible type of carb in the form of sandwiches, bars, muffins, cookies and candy) but it was only bananas, oranges and tortillas. Granted, it WAS the first stop of the day after only 25 miles. Oh and Clif Bars was handing out pouches of basically liquified oatmeal. I do not know anyone who actually enjoyed them. I refuse to eat liquified oatmeal. I have a hard time with the concept of oatmeal in general.

But we kept our spirits and hopes high for the next stop.

We rode for another 25 miles, which included the infamous Puyallup Hill (the first of two major hills on the entire ride), which wasn’t necessarily steep, just long. I thought it was fun. Otherwise, the ride was pretty mild and flat on Day 1.

Our next stop was in Spanaway for lunch (50 miles-ish). I figured after we got out of the industrial area, the route would be prettier, and it was. The group of bikes didn’t thin out as much as I thought it would though.

Spanaway/Lunch was in a high school football field. Turkey sandwiches, hummus, pretzels, cookies, bars, fruit and resting. Not a bad combo. Picked up Greg here.

The section after Spanaway was the best part of the ride. We got to bike on a closed road through the military base (Joint Base Lewis-McCord) for a good bit, a few more streets, then the route took us for 14 miles on the Tenino-Yelm bike trail. This was such a nice reprieve from street riding with cars and stoplights.

By the time of the Clif Bar Mini Stop, at 88 miles, it was greatly welcomed, but not for the Clif Bar freebies (wretched liquified oatmeal). No, the Tenino High School Basketball Team was madly handing out popsicles, watermelon and other fruit, while keeping the water jugs filled and a soundsystem pumping music. It was hard to leave, but only 20 miles to go for the rest of the day sounded pretty sweet.

Bums were starting to get sore during these last couple miles, and we were stoked to cross the city limits into Centralia, the event’s official Half Way Point, where camping, food trucks, live music and a beer garden awaited riders. Located on the Centralia College campus, tents were lined up back-to-back on every possible patch of grass available. Kristen drove from Port Orchard to join us and give us any support we needed. We met up in the beer garden for some congratulatory beverages for an hour or so before riding our final six miles of the day to Chehalis/Recreation Park. This is where we met our hosts, The Pattens.

Biking through Chehalis around 8 p.m. was interesting… a quiet little town, completely shut down, even though 10,000 riders were invading the region. It reminded me a lot of Athens, Ohio, where Beth and I went to college.

Instead of camping, and since every hotel in the region was sold out before March, we took our chances and paid the local chamber of commerce to find us a place to sleep. The organization has a program where local families open their houses to riders to crash for the night. Our hosts, Matt and Paige Patten, were known for hosting about 15-18 people each year and was rumored to be one of the best private hosts in town. We quickly found out why – huge house with room to spread out our stuff, a real shower, meet other riders over dinner, comfy couches to crash on, and a large spread of food, including homemade spaghetti sauce and pie and ice cream and then pancakes and eggs and sausage for breakfast… we could not thank them enough. They even hauled our overnight bags to and from the park for us.

Refreshed and full, we left Sunday morning, bombed down the hill from their house and got back on route.

Now, at this point, getting back on the bike is supposed to be the hardest part of the entire trip. I was told multiple times that training for STP isn’t so much putting miles on the legs as it is putting miles on the seat, to train the butt for the time on the saddle.

I have say, I was pleasantly surprised how much it didn’t hurt, but I can’t say that there wasn’t some noticeable soreness. I was surprised a little bit around mile 120 when my quads started to make noise. Nope, 80 miles to go, you can’t quit on me now.

The next 50 miles or so were some of the prettiest of the entire ride. We started around 8 a.m. under overcast skies, but the clouds soon burned off and we were cruising on roads that meandered around farms and old houses, with some rolling hills thrown in for good measure. Then we got to the hill that was the “other” rumored hill on the ride, but I didn’t realize it until we were at the top and large yellow signs told us that Free Banana Bread was ahead! We were told about this stop by the Pattens, where a family greeted everyone with free banana bread at the top of the big hill, of which we heartily engaged. I THINK this was Napavine.

The Winlock stop was interesting, as you had the scent of fried onions in the air at 10 a.m. from a burger stand. We did not stop to engage in the fried onions.

The ride between there and Lexington, our lunch stop, wasn’t much to remember, other than lots of rolling hills. The training in Kitsap finally paid off.

We spent an hour in Lexington, with similar food from the day before, and we all actually sprawled on the ground to take a quick nap, as it was common to see bodies spread out all over the place doing the same. It was another tip I’d heard about – definitely rest at the stops, don’t just eat and go.

This was around noon, at which I turned on my music on my phone, bluetoothed it to a little portable speaker I borrowed from a co-worker, turned it up and stuck it in my jersey pocket so everyone could hear it. I did this the day before as well and it played a big part in getting to the end of the day when everything is stiff and sore but the only thing to do is pedal. So I sang and danced on my bike.

Bikes started crowding up again as we got closer to the Lewis and Clark Bridge, which meant crossing the border from Washington to Oregon! I queued with my team while we waited for volunteers to stop the southbound traffic so Goldwing riders could escort us onto the bridge. As we started climbing (it wasn’t just a flat bridge across, it was a definite very tall up-and-over bridge with a fantastic view of the Columbia River), Beth just took off like a bat out of hell, so I chased her to keep up.

And that girl passed EVERYONE on that damn bridge. I was so impressed – this city slicker girlfriend of mine who I’ve known for almost 20 years and has embraced the mountains and biking just in the past few years totally kicked it up a notch and continually impressed me with her outdoor badassery. Later, she said, “I just wanted to get off that bridge! I did NOT like riding on it!”

After we got into Oregon, roads started to get a little dicey, as shoulders were non-existent in some places, and bikes were lined up front to back, with cars screaming by. The route eventually put us on Highway 30, which was a four-lane highway with fantastically wide shoulders but went on for MILES – for 41.2 miles to be exact.

At one point when I really was in a groove with a flat section, I shifted to my front big ring and within two seconds, the damn chain fell off. The guy behind told me my chain fell off while I’m muttering expletives and yelling back at him, yeah, I know. So I just yelled out I was slowing, so people would slow down and not crash into me.

I eventually came to a stop, tossed the bike and myself over the guardrail and started to put the chain back on. Joe and Beth stopped to help, which was great when we got it back on, so there were two extra pairs of hands to hold the bike and shift gears while I ran the pedals so we could make sure the chain shifted properly. So, once again, no Front Chain Ring for me. (I may have shifted it into too hard a gear. Still a newbie at this).

So, back on the road, along the highway, stopped at a few more stops to rest our bums (St. Helens for a good long stop until 3ish, I think, and then Scappoose by 5 p.m., where we were told we only had 16 miles to go, but the finish line closed at 7 p.m.!) and eat some food and coach each other through the next few sections. The last hour or so of the ride I was starting to get nauseous but I think it was from the pain from the saddle sores because I was definitely well hydrated and fed but not TOO much. So I thought anyway. I stayed away from the terrible electrolytes and stuck with water, spacing out the Vitalyte I did have with me.

Then suddenly I heard whoops and hollers … we’d just crossed the city limits into Portland – 13 miles to go! At that point, I passed a dad and his kid who was probably 9 years old. I’d been watching him and two other kids around his age pump out the miles the past two days like it was their job. It was the coolest thing to watch. I got the sense that the parents were confident their kid could do it but still pretty cautious, and giving lots of words of encouragement. As I passed the dad and his son, I told them both, “Your son is amazing. I am super impressed!”

So, Portland! Cardboard signs were posted along the side of the road, telling us how many more miles to go, starting with 10 miles. We crossed another up-and-over bridge that gave us a sprawling view of the city to the west and I was thinking, “Oh man, we’re almost DONE. We’re almost THERE.” And I was kind of sad. All the fun was almost over.

After the bridge, the route took us through very urban Northwesty-type neighborhoods, filled with older Craftsman-style homes lush with gardens, past University of Portland, along Willamette Blvd. and eventually into downtown Portland. Because Portland doesn’t provide police support, we had to stop at every. single. stoplight. on the way to the finish line, so there was a massive group of bikes at each stop.

Then all of a sudden, we’re in downtown, the cowbells get louder, the crowds get bigger, we turn the corner and there’s the big green inflatable Finish Line arch! We zoom through it and into the chute, where we’re handed our STP Finishers patch. When I biked past Greg’s cheering family, my eyes got a little misty because it hit me that it was all finally over. But I didn’t have time to cry because otherwise I would have crashed into the bikes in front of me. Heads up, Royal.

I regrouped with my team and we high-fived and took pictures. We indulged in our free Meal Of Choice (a very loaded burrito from a food truck), a beer and then talked the massage people into a quick 15 minute massage since they were closing soon. Grabbed our souvenirs (a choice of hat, shirt or a water bottle), our overnight bags that were shuttled from Chehalis to PDX for us, and then gingerly biked another mile to our AirBnB for the night, where we promptly showered and then did not move the rest of the night.

Afterthoughts:

Frankly, I’d do it again. I wouldn’t say it was easy but it wasn’t the hardest thing either.

Key things to remember for next time:

Chamois butter – It’s supposed to prevent chafing but I swear it also helped stave off the saddle sores.

The right electrolytes – riding with a bloated stomach and belching all the way to Portland is not fun (even as much as I like to burp).

Music via loud speaker – definitely helped get through the drag of the second half of the day.

Have a team – I could not imagine doing this alone.

Even if you’re spending the night past the beer garden, stop for a beer or two and a piece of pizza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1:05 p.m. Feb. 11:

I’m in a Facebook group right now that discusses mindful eating. Basically, pay attention to how you eat, how your body processes it, how you feel when you’re eating, WHY are you eating, etc.

Today’s challenge was to just sit down with a meal – do just that. Eat the meal, no multi-tasking, no reading, no working, no standing over a sink, no eating behind the wheel.

After a unusually cranky morning, I scrapped my plans to go running but decided a brisk walk would do me good, before the rain came this afternoon. Bonus – found a nice forested walking trail by my office, so that will be utilized often as the days get nicer. Even did a little trail jogging.

Then, I came back to my “Garbage Can Salad” – tossed whatever I had in the fridge this morning. Some kale/broccoli greens/cabbage/hardy greens, feta cheese, cubed and baked yam, shredded chicken, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and some homemade honey mustard dressing.

Instead of normally reaching for the newspapers that arrive daily in my office or checking Facebook, I decided I should try this mindful eating challenge. Kinda like a meditation on eating.

It was actually kind of hard.

Here’s how it went via the thought process:

I’ll take in this view from my office (I have practically floor to ceiling windows that look out on to a greenbelt and other office buildings)

I’m gonna prop my dirty trail shoes up on this desk and take it all in for the next 10 minutes.

Man, these greens REALLY need to be massaged with some oil and salt. They are just too rough for my liking. Maybe some lemon juice would do (which was sitting on a shelf behind me but I never reached for it).

Oh, this is a super dry salad – the dry greens and the store bought shredded chicken is really dry. Good thing I have feta and yam in here. But it could use some more dressing.

I should write something up about this in the group. No, I’ll do a 15 minutes blog! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of those.

The gold in the dead grass over there is actually quite pretty.

I think I see some mist.

Man, this salad IS really dry. Screw it. I’m going to go over the allotment and add a little more. (Goes to fridge, sprinkles some on, comes back).

*Pierces a huge chunk of salad with fork and shoves in mouth* OH that’s MUCH better.

 

Huh. This is kind of like meditating, I think. Focusing on one task at hand and doing nothing else. This is kind of hard. My brain is so flakey and wants to do this and this and that and this ….

————

But, I stuck it out and found myself thinking more and more about my salad and what was in it and briefly thinking about the “fullness” scale.

And then I took the last bite, thought to myself, “that was pretty damn good” and tossed it aside.

And that is 15 minutes.

 

 

I make a lot of excuses for everything. I know this. I’ve always known this. I’m actually a lot of talk and no action, contrary to what y’all think.

These ideas have been brought to my attention recently. On a deeper level. Don’t ask. Just go with it.

I woke up this morning with the uncomfortable feeling, like, yeah, get off your duff and actually do something. You ARE all talk and no action. I’ve been bitching for years about things I REALLY want to do and have I done them?

NO, because I am the QUEEN OF EXCUSES. Look at my past relations and jobs and extracurricular activities – why I can’t/don’t/shouldn’t get out of it, change it, do it.

F that.

I sat down with breakfast and a scrap piece of paper and a pen and scrawled across the top:

What makes me feel alive?

Answers:

(Speaking of, at this moment, a Florence and the Machines song just came on KEXP. It’s not the song that reminds me of my trip to Australia in 2011, but this band had a song that came out around that time that was totally the theme of that trip. And that trip made me feeling so fucking alive.)

Answers:

Running

hiking/skiing uphill

dogs

good home cooked food

my favorite people

sunshine

busy work

helping people

cleaning/organizing

creating things with my hands

music

traveling and exploring

gardening

……

NOW, this list is all fine and good but HOW or WHAT am I going to do about each one.

Next to each item, I started writing out ideas:

Running – sign up for a trail run once a month. it costs money but whatever. Sign up early enough, it’s not as expensive. Every time I got off a trail run in 2014, it was the best feeling ever. Better than climbing, hiking, biking, swimming, whatever other sport i’ve tried.

hiking/skiing uphill – it’s winter, so it’s snow season, so I need to get my knee brace fitted which I’m doing next friday. YAY! Then I can cross country ski this year!

dogs – Don called me out last night on every excuse for not having a dog, as I’ve been moaning for years that I’ve wanted one. I essentially live in the equivalent of a big apartment (big indoor space, no fenced yard). Start researching good types of dogs for me – one who enjoys exercise and being worked but also knows how to chill.

good home cooked food – CHECK. ALL THE TIME.

my favorite people – who in my life makes me feel happy and real and myself. mentors and people i respect and look up to.

sunshine – continue to take 3,000 IUs of Vitamin D, go to the tanning beds or just fucking move.

busy work – i’m trying hard at work to do this while we’re in a slow season, as most my people are at their computers doing reports and data crunching, so field season is slow. time to plan long-term projects?

helping people – mountain rescue allows for this, but not enough. my job allows for this, but not enough. my career counseling last year shed light on working in a non-traditional teaching environment. Both my job and mountain rescue allow plenty of opportunities to do this. I need to sit down with a calendar and resources and do some research on how to incorporate this.

cleaning/organizing – i’m really good at this, no matter what it is. it just comes as required.

creating things with my hands – woodworking is the first thing that comes to mind. I just signed up for a free online four-day creative class. I would like to sit down and go through it, but see, I’m not creating an action plan here to make sure I follow through with it. I guess a bigger priority is the pile of fabric in my living room for two sets of pajama pants, three quilts, a dress and lots of mending …

music – most of the time, KEXP. Also, I have a ukelele and a guitar in my living room. In their cases. Someone told me to buy music stands so they’ll sit out and I’ll pick them up more. I need to buy two music stands. Cheap.

traveling and exploring – this takes planning. I see on Facebook (yes, the Facebook syndrome) all the trips and ideas and think, man, I need to plan some trips. Yes, I know I just went to Ireland (which was amazing) but wanderlust is getting to me again. I WILL BLOCK OUT THAT LAST WEEK OF MARCH FOR MY WEEKLONG ROAD TRIP FROM CALIFORNIA TO WASHINGTON DAMNIT. I’VE BEEN WANTING TO DO THAT TRIP FOR SIX YEARS NOW.

Gardening – that pink binder on the table? the one you keep meaning to organize by month so you know what to do for each plant, as well as layout where each plant is in your gardens? that needs to be done. again though where’s the action plan to make sure it gets done?

(Irony? KEXP is now playing ALIVE by Empire of the Sun)

it feels good to get all this out, but it also means planning and budgeting. that’s where i get blocked. when do i have time to sit down and plan and budget? that’s my problem.

the other question – in a year, after i do all these things, will i finally be happy? i constantly feel like there is something else there, something else that i need to satisfy me, because apparently my charmed life right now (i’m not going to lie, i know i have it good, on paper, my life looks fantastic) isn’t enough.

there you go.

No one ever said i didn’t wear my heart on my sleeve.

 

 

 

 

 

However, when one’s life is pretty much just working and working out daily for knee rehab, there’s not a lot of time for other things.

My gardens definitely were ignored. I was lucky to get plants in the ground and harvest tomatoes and cucumbers this summer. I realized too that I couldn’t do intensive yardwork so not to strain the knee, nor could I kneel or squat very well.

Once I got the go-ahead to start going to the gym in spring, sewing was tucked away in a corner (I consider sewing a winter activity anyway).

I’d say the most productive thing I did around the house this year was learning about “KonMari-ing” or as Brian puts it, buying a book on “How To Throw Sh*t Away.”

Regardless what it’s called and who believes in it or not, it worked. I have a much more organized house. The only categories left to clean are the garage and the momentos/personal items, which I keep putting off the latter for obvious reasons.

Just as I decided to start putting some money into the house in late summer (took out a few trees), I spontaneously decided I needed a real vacation and headed to Ireland for 2 weeks. Best decision ever.

Then my tenants moved out around the same time and I’ve been dragging my feet on cleaning/upgrading/modifying the apartment since mid-October. But it’s 99.999999% done now and I hope to have a renter in there within the next two weeks.

Also, there was that whole No Hot Water For Three Weeks that put a delay on things. Hooray for new hot water tank (Tankless/on demand)!

But now as I move away from physical-therapyish daily workouts and into more normal-person workouts, as well as test knee/quad strength in the field, I hope PLAN ON 2016 being full of more creativity, more outdoors and more yard time.

It’s a bit early, but I’ve been assessing the year and thinking about next year. A quick list:

  • Start trail running on a regular basis – Thinking back over what sports and movements I’ve participated in the past 20 years, and what really makes me feel alive, trailing running really does it, more so than backpacking, climbing, hiking and snow sports. It’s equivalent to that one amazing ski run of the day, where the snow is perfect and your form is perfect and the sky is blue and that run made you feel like you are THE BEST SKIER IN THE WORLD. Trail running gives me that same feeling, but on a more consistent basis. And you get filthy and muddy in the process. And get snacks on trail. And less chance of tearing knee ligaments. And less wear and tear on knees compared to pounding cement. And WAY less gear.
  • Also, more yoga. Turns out YOU CAN get a yoga body by doing it 3-5x a week. And it’s helped considerably with rehab.
  • Get to North Carolina in May to run a race with my Emers, drink beer with Tiger, and snuggle with their girls.
  • Get those sewing projects done (quilts, chair cover, mend some clothing).
  • Finish two woodworking projects – mirror frame for the bathroom and tree stump-turned-coffeetable for living room.
  • Climb Mt. Baker: Once I can successfully climb a volcano again, and sustain the endurance that it takes to do so, then I believe I will be strong enough to go back into the field for mountain rescue. Maybe even get up Mt. St. Helens in a dress on Mother’s Day.
  • Crank out another section of the backyard landscape project. Three down, about 3 or 4 to go. This year: plants in the middle garden and save money for new patio construction.
  • KonMari that damn garage and momentos pile (which will actually be the most amazing feeling in the world when finally done. Like trail running).

 

 

 

It’s Saturday with little on the docket for the weekend. Knee workout, weed the backyard and maybe finish that quilt and start that dress. (OH and I was just informed we’re having Easter dinner tomorrow. I can’t remember the last time I had Easter dinner. I’m just in charge of bringing the candied pecans for the salad.)

But first – the workout. Get it out of the way. As I laid in bed going over the day in my head, I took a small sigh.

I’m kinda getting tired of my “workout.” It’s nice that I can do it at the gym and feel like a real person again, but …. eh…. I’m getting bored. It takes an hour. I have to do it every single day. The full workout at least once, then a shorter version too, so I’m doing exercises twice a day. My PT and I change up the exercises when I get bored of them and we just put together a new program the other day.

None of it is cardio intensive right now, but I’m slowly getting there. I think that may be what’s making me a bit restless.

Also, I’m actually jealous of the people who take the Zumba classes. I despise those classes but oh how I wish I could move like them without any consequences.

Then I remembered my PT and PTA and I talked about yoga. They said I could pretty much try whatever exercise I wanted (within reason of course) and just listen to my knee and body and see what happens. And what’s great about yoga is that I can modify any of the poses.

So, when I showed up at the gym, I wandered over to the printed schedules of classes.

There was a yoga class at 10:15. It was 10:14.  Read the rest of this entry »

While this is a completely fabricated story, this will have truth behind it in mid-March. I’ll happily write a more accurate version for the Stranger… maybe submit it to The Kitsap Report.

Potential headline next month:

Hed: No Dancing at St. Pats Dash​ This Year

Subhed: Bremerton contingent has injured dancers, unable to show up and lead the city in a rokus good time 

SEATTLE – The live band who showed up to play in the beer garden following Seattle’s legendary St. Pat’s Dash was sorely disappointed to see an empty dance floor this year.

Oh, there were hundreds of people before them in the cavernous Fisher Pavilion, but in typical Seattle fashion, those people stood around politely drinking their post-dash beers. They were leaving room in front of the stage for those who wanted engage in some high energy Irish jigging.

But no one showed up.

People got nervous. Frightened. THEY may have to step up and dance in front of hundreds of strangers. The crowd was at a loss of what to do.

Typically, for the past four years, right around 10 a.m., a group of six to eight wildly dressed folks in costumes usually consisting of tutus, ribbons and Lyrca, and mostly from Bremerton (a small Navy town across the Sound) step right up in front of the band and start dancing. Hard. Badly, but hard. They dance until the drummer is finally breaking down his kit. They sweat. They fall. They get back up. They drag members of the passive aggressive Seattle crowd to engage in animated fun.

The Bremerton Crowd outdoes the Ellen Selfie at the 2014 St. Pats Dash.

The Bremerton Crowd outdoes the Ellen Selfie at the 2014 St. Pats Dash.

In the past, there have been willing volunteers, one dressed as a leprechaun, another with long orange braids, and another wearing a kilt and a spaceship kitty t-shirt, who needed no encouragement to jump in with The Bremerton Crowd.

But this year – it was quiet. The clinking of empty plastic beer cups used to construct beer towers was deafening.

“I wasn’t sure what to do,” said the band leader. “It may have been a small group but they were familiar, fun and welcoming and fed off our energy to get Seattle going. That’s a tough job because Seattle is a tough crowd.”

The band played on, much to their dismay, to a lifeless crowd of Irish and wanna-be-Irish drunks.

Further investigation uncovered The Bremerton Crowd down the street at The Five Point Cafe, where it was learned that Bremerton runners and dancers Kevin Koski and Tiffany Royal were nursing a broken pinkie toe and recovering from ACL surgery, respectively, this year.

“I figured we’re were going to make headlines this year for NOT being there,” Koski said, who is known for running the Dash backwards. “We’re bummed that we can’t there this year. We’d hoped Seattle would step up for us. It’d be hard for them to do but I had hope!”

Royal took a big sigh and shook her head.

“Typical,” she muttered and, then pushing back the green ribbons woven through her hair, she reached for her pitcher of IPA. She had no further comment.

No, I haven’t become addicted to the Oxycodone that was provided post-surgery. Quite the opposite. I got off it as soon as I could but, man, the side effects. After talking with a nurse confirming the cause of some troubling abdominal discomfort Thursday morning, my mother spent the next five hours researching, making lists, shopping and looking up recipes on high fiber foods.

And y’all wonder why it took me 2.5 months to research my orthopedic doctor and ligament choice.

She fully takes the blame for that personality quirk. I never knew how bad it was until I witnessed it Thursday. Now, she can’t keep stop shoveling quinoa, hummus, vegetables and fruit down my throat. But I’m not complaining. It’s a tasty road to recovery (her chocolate chip cookies help too, now that I finally feel like eating them).

She’s been a saint the past week, dealing with my up-and-down moods and running to the store daily for stuff we need. I could not do this recovery without her. Thanks Mom!

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank all the fantastic support from friends, the tenant and Brian, all of whom have come over to visit, prep food, chat to take my mind off my discomfort and help with cleaning a flooded basement the day after surgery (Major shoutout to the tenant Casey, and Kevin and Maria for that one. And the plumber who showed up at 11:30 p.m.).

So it’s a week post-op. With the nerve block, opiods, Ibuprofen and Tylenol, pain management has not been a problem, even as I transitioned from narcotics to over-the-counter drugs. Leg’s been kept elevated, iced nearly around the clock and while I can put full weight on it (with my brace on), I’m keeping things pretty light and easy and stick close to the couch.

The five-day post-op visit with the surgeon, Dr. Green, was a success. He was excited to see I had full extension of the leg, minimal swelling and could make a muscle with my thigh and do leg lifts.

“You met all my initial goals, this is excellent,” he said. “My job is done. It’s up to you now. Get into physical therapy and start getting to work.”

I started that process today with Ryan, my physical therapist, who was amazed I had full extension of my knee one-week post op (“that’s fantastic,” he said, with a slight shake of his head, in disbelief) and then got to work with gentle exercises, most of which I’d been doing for two months before my operation to build the muscle and muscle memory (leg lifts, ankle circles, tightening of the quad, hamstring and glutes, among others). These are nothing new to me, just… now they’re a bit harder. Especially when trying to bend the knee.

I can get a 30-degree bend in the knee right now.

I remember how this went last time 17 years ago.

I have about 100 degrees to go.

* deep breath *

Here we go.

It’s 3 a.m. the day after my ACL surgery on my left knee. So, you know, a perfect time to write a blog post. I didn’t wake up to pain, just a little stiffness (the leg propped up on pillows and forced straight by a brace and thick layers of gauze will do that to a person who likes to sleep on her side). I expect pain to kick in around 9 a.m. as the femoral nerve block wears off but we’ll stay ahead of it with 12-hour oxycodone pills at 7 a.m. I also am losing my voice, but apparently that’s a side effect of when they put something down my throat to keep me breathing during surgery.

Since I tore it in October, I spent 2.5 months exploring my options to replace the ligament and the right doctor to do it. Four Seattle doctor interviews later, plus a chat with my step-uncle, an ortho surgeon in Minnesota, I finally settled on Dr. John Green at University of Washington Sports Medicine Center. Everyone else gave me different options for the ligament replacement, none of which I was crazy about, even after discovering the publication “The American Journal of Sports Medicine” and reading study after study of the various options (hamstring = possible weakness the rest of my life; patella tendon = knee sensitivity the rest of my life and I have experience with that in my right knee from the last time I did this; cadaver = easier recovery but not as strong as using my own tissue, although the debate is still out on that one. If I’d gone that route, I’d gotten a tattoo on my knee that said, “This is Bob’s old knee.” Or, “RIP Bob” or, “Bob now lives here.”)

Dr. Green said using the quadricep would be the way to go for me. It’s a longer recovery time with the harvest site in the quad, but it will grow back to be just as strong.

I love my quads more than anything in the world of my body, honestly. They power me up the hills, crank during cycling and propel me forward while running. And I’ve got PLENTY of them, so USE them!

The reality of this whole deal started to hit last Friday, my last day of work for three weeks. Then Mom came into town on Tuesday. Then UW called on Thursday to give me my check-in time for Friday morning. I was pretty anxious and apprehensive about it all by then and of course questioned, why why why??? do i have to do this?

But I knew. And I woke up on Friday morning with a different attitude – it was GO TIME.

We had to take the 4:50 a.m. ferry and got to UW very very early, so I was in pre-op very very early. Everyone came into visit (nurses, IV nurses, anesthesiologists, the P.A. Nicole and then Dr. Green). Of all things, I was anticipating the IV line insert because the idea of it just plain freaks me out. And the needle prick that comes with it.

Brian made a good point though – I brushed off some bee stings back in September, and these needle pricks would be much less severe. It WAS less severe and she did a great job (I entertained the nurses with my Hugh Grant obsession, which is my go-to aimless chatter topic I use when getting pricked – it goes back to last ACL surgery and IV insert in 1996 and I was a fan of the mop-topped Brit at the time. Still am. I like his his dry sense of humor).

When it was done, I made the mistake of looking at it and then asked them to cover it up with tape, then promptly fainted. I thought I was going sleep for the surgery and thought, “Yes! Give in to the sleep and I’ll wake up in recovery!”

No.

Next thing I heard was something about being “green”, Mom calling my name and the P.A. saying, “ah, let her relax, she’s pretty tense right now.” I woke up sweating and asking what happened. Everyone just chuckled and said I passed out, and that it’s pretty common, especially when you haven’t had anything to eat for 12 hours. And I hadn’t been given in any sedatives yet.

But, two hours later, they started them and I gave in and last thing I remember was being wheeled into the OR, where I promptly started calling out all the people’s names and who they were in the OR, since I had met 99% of them in pre-op. Anna, Nancy, Colin Kennedy (what a name and a handsome fellow!) the equipment tech and then the first anesthesiologist – I didn’t know his name and someone said his name is Dr. something, or Ryan. So I called out, “OK I will call you Ryan. I like that name.” Next thing I know, Ryan is putting a gas mask on my face and told me to start counting. BAM. OUT.

What seemed like moment later, I was waking up a bit foggy, my left knee feeling pretty heavy and a nurse asking me to eat ice chips. Then I just sort looked around and felt like I had this goofy smile on my face and gave everyone the “rock on” hand signal when they asked me a question. The Regional Anesthesiology Team came in to give me my nerve block in my leg, which I anticipated to be painful, since I was envisioning a large needle going deep into my leg. So I closed my eyes, tried not to listen to Benjamin and his partner discuss exactly what they were doing step by step and again, a little prick and they were done. Sweet!!!

After that, the recovery nurse said, “OK, you’re done and ready to go home!” Mom went to get my prescriptions filled, only to find out that my insurance didn’t cover 12 hour Oxy. So the nurse said to mom, you know you can just buy it. I proclaimed, “Put it on the credit card!” But we had to wait for Dr. Green to come out and rewrite the scrip since it had been deleted after mom visited the pharm. So, it was an hour and a half of waiting for Green to finish up a surgery, but that was OK with me. I was pretty comfortable.

Around 4 p.m., we loaded me into a wheelchair, got me in the car (Lucille Bertha “The Battlewagon” Royale was awesome and comfy) and Mom got us to the ferry easily during the absolute worst time of the week in Seattle – commuter traffic. But she did a great job. In the meantime, Brian got ice and soup for me and dinner for mom after work and was at the house (with pretty flowers for my living room too!) when we got there at 6:30. He helped me up the stairs (he wanted to carry me in but I honestly just needed him to catch me if I fell), stayed for about 45 min, got the day’s stories and then went home to let me and mom go to bed (we’d been up awake since 2 a.m.).

So, aside from fainting, it was a pretty uneventful day. Now, as Dr. Green told Mom, I have a lot of work to do for the next six months. Bring it on!

Buuuuutttt, let’s just get through these first few days of pain that I’m sure will on-set today. More like uncomfortable pain, but hopefully nothing as unbearable like the last time I did this. Post-op is Tuesday and with the OK from Green, PT starts Friday. That’s when the REAL work will start.

And I am just absolutely blown away by all the kind words and wishes and texts and phone calls from my friends throughout the country. It’s been awesome to receive those, on top of Brian being so sweet and helpful to Mom, who, I think is more worn out from this than I am. But she’s doing great and I’m extremely happy she’s here.

OH and screw Whole30 right now. I want some Dave’s Killer Bread smeared with my favorite peanut butter and my favorite relaxation tea and maybe even some ice cream…

Oh and the experience at University of Washington? Could NOT have been more fantastic. Totally stoked about going with them and HIGHLY recommend there. I’ll probably go back later this year to have them help me fix my sub-scapla (or at least figure out WHY and WHERE exactly and WHAT is going on).