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Wow!!! It’s been more than two months since I last posted. WTF? How inconsiderate of me. Sorry blog.

The first week of November I attended a press trip to Wisconsin to tour the Dairyland’s famous creameries. After three days of eating more cheese than I thought my body could handle, I received an early morning phonecall from a sad sad voice.

It was mom. My grandma had passed away. The week prior she had been back in the hospital with pneumonia and a broken arm. I had visited her on a Saturday afternoon.

“Ooooh hiiii!” She laughed when I walked in as if she had been secretly expecting me. I am not sure she knew who I was but she was glad to see someone familiar and have some company.

She told me some borderline coherent stories, most of which included the name “George” (my grandpa) and she hollered at the moaning woman she was stuck sharing a room with: “Ohhhh shut up! What are you complaining about?”

Then to me: “What is HER problem?”

I rubbed her head till she started to doze. When I stopped she perked up again and asked me if I was leaving. I couldn’t make out the words but the disappointment was clear.

I told her I was “going to check on grandpa… George.”

She giggled with her eyes closed and asked what he was doing and what he was going to eat for dinner since she couldn’t make him anything. I promised I’d bring him something delicious to eat. (We had Olive Garden that night, his favorite.)

“Ok. You better go then.” Thats grandma; always putting someone else first.

“I love you grandma!”

“Oooooh ha, I love you too!” And when she squeezed my hand, I knew it was the last time I was going to see her. Just for a flash; I could sense that this was it…

… so I gave her a kiss and the biggest smile I could conjure up while sucking in the tears.

A few weeks later we celebrated her life with a wake full of photos, stories and smiles. She was not only one of the happiest persons that I knew, but she had spread her infectious positivity everywhere she went and with everyone she met.

At some point in the mourning process it occurred to me, ‘this was the first time I had lost someone close to me.’

At the ripe age of 29, I’m pretty damn lucky to make this claim. At the same time, it was unfamiliar territory.

I didn’t feel like blogging. I didn’t feel like advertising it on Facebook. I didn’t feel like telling people and hearing condolences. I just wanted to sit with it, digest it and accept it.

So I did.

Every time Ive sat down to type since, I didnt know where to start. I couldnt write about anything until I wrote about her… and I didn’t know what to say.

Two days ago my friend told me his grandma died. My grief popped its ugly head but this time it left me smiling. I miss her… especially at the holidays… but she lived with a smile so I better too.

There’s been a lot else going on as well. Following Wisconsin I took off on a couple more business trips, including a second landing in San Francisco which only heightened my desire to live there. I had the chance to wander around Union Sq and reminisce about my run. Ahhhhh. Remember that? Did I mention I ran a half marathon in San Fran?

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$60 of cheese I brought home from the Madison Farmers Market — the largest producer market in the country.

I’ve kept up the running. Didn’t even stop for that freak blizzard/storm that hit the tri-state area in October. Actually, instead of staying warm/dry, Azzy, Kenny and I ran/climbed/jumped our way through the Men’s Health Urbanathlon — a military-style obstacle course with an urban/city-twist. You know, like climbing over taxi cabs and MTA buses, army crawling under chain link fences and jumping traffic cones.

The course was 9.something miles with 8 obstacles, two of which were running staircases at Arthur Ashe Stadium and Citifield. We split the bee-otch up and relayed it, each taking on a 3ish-mile section.

It was awesome.

It was HARD.

When we saw the course map, I begged for the section that included monkey bars… I don’t want toot my own horn, but I kinda rocked the monkey bars as a kid. All good right?! That section also included military hurdles. Those mothereffers were like 5-foot-something high. Thank god some Greg T (Z100) lookalike showed up and let me step on his back. Otherwise I’d have failed my team. Note to self: must exercise upper body more.

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Us enjoying the beer tent after the race.

Anyways. It was awesome. I’ve kept with the running since and ran a PR Turkey Trot 5k, signed up for two NYRR races in January, including the Manhattan half-marathon, and entered the lottery for the NYC Half and the ING NYC Marathon. What did I do?

Then as an early Christmas gift I went and gave myself tendinitis in the bottom of my right foot — legwarmers were the culprit — and have been out of commission for two+ weeks.

IM GOING CRAZY!!!!!!

My awesome podiatrist is “cautiously optimistic” that I can run the half on Jan 21st, and I’ll be playing with my gal in Conn this weekend instead of running the Joe Kleinerman 10K. *tear*

It was kinda convenient that this happened now — I’ve been working on a project at work that has actually been taking all my evening time so I haven’t had to voluntarily compromise running time. And the new website looks gooooood.

With that said, it’s a new year! I am making 2012 the year of SMILES AND POSITIVITY!!!

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Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents told you to be careful running around or you’d “fall and break your neck?”

It actually happens. A few weeks ago my grandma fell and broke her neck. She definitely wasn’t running around, more like walking or standing, but the end result is the same.

Fractured vertebra!

Ouch!

She spent a few days in the hospital and is now in a nursing home rehab. She has to wear a neck brace that she hates and is always, as she says, “just falling off.”

Grandma is 92. She also has dementia meaning a lot of the times she doesn’t know who we are and often tells us about how she entertained, cooked and danced the day away. What a nursing home, eh? One big party!

Rarely does she know who I am when I visit, often referring to me as my mom. I’m too young; she lives in a time long ago when her and my grandpa traveled the world, went square dancing a few times a week and my grandpa ran half-marathons. And there you were thinking “Wait, no running connection?”

My grandparents have been married for 67 years.

67 YEARS! That is a looooong time.

I admit, with embarrassment, that I didn’t get to know them as well as I wish I had growing up. But like all good couples, grandpa complements grandma with memories of the old days clearer than mine are from yesterday. I did NOT get my poor memory from him.

He loves the story about when he was in the airforce and they had their first child, my uncle, without a penny to their name out in Colorado. Grandma had to take Amtrak back to NY herself with an infant when grandpa got stationed elsewhere. Maybe that’s where my love for traveling across countries comes from. He talks about his career in the fire department. He talks about his bout with alcoholism and the subsequent decades in AA and all the friends he made as a result. But what he talks about most of all, and the one consistent in all his stories, is grandma.

“I knew right away she was the one for me. Sure I’d dated other girls but as soon as I met her, I knew she was it,” he told me during one of our hospital visits. “Course she didn’t think the same thing. She was dating like three other guys. (Grandma was/is a big flirt!) Finally I told her to make a decision.

But I knew right away… have you ever felt that way about a guy?”

“Ummm, I’m single grandpa.”

He shrugged and smirked.

According to my grandpa, grandma got him off the couch. Perfectly content to sit around and watch TV, grandma encouraged him to go dancing with her and to travel the world.

“She gave me a life,” he is always saying.

She is that type of person. Even with a broken neck and her mind hanging out anywhere between 1919 and Roosevelt’s presidency, she’s still smiling, flirting with young doctors, making wise arse remarks in response to everything she hears, laughing at her nursing-home housemates and sharing nothing but happy memories — even if it does become a game for us to guess what time period and who she’s speaking about.

Grandpa also reminds us how lucky he feels to have had her stick by him when his favorite pastime was alcohol.

“She could have, and rightly at times should have, walked away. I wasn’t nice.”

But she didn’t. Instead she stuck around to see him drop drinking like it was hot, buy a pair of running shoes and cheer him on through his first half-marathon.

And his second for that matter.

Grandma and Grandpa after his first marathon!

My grandpa took up running when he was in his 60s. And here I am complaining about my 29-year-old aches and pains? He just ran for fun, to have something positive to indulge in; he wasn’t out to set any records or race. But he did. He ran 13.1 miles… Twice!

I always knew this about my grandpa, I remember watching him run past the end of our block during the Long Island Half-Marathon when I was a wee-youngin’. He also talks about after the run: A lot of the guys were going off to celebrate with a beer, which Grandpa was obviously not feelin’. My dad offered him a BBQ and it made his day. ha. In our house a good BBQ’d burger has always been the key to happiness.

I love that my grandpa ran. I love that someone in my family loved something that I love. I love that when I talk about a runner’s high, his eyes light up.

He seems to like it too. During dinner one night a couple months ago, he went through all the tips he could think of.

Start slow, save your energy. 

Make sure you stretch.

Do you have good shoes? You need good shoes.

What are you eating? I always liked to eat a piece of toast with peanut butter. (or something like that)

I had told him I had numerous coaches teaching me the ins and outs of running without catastrophe, but he obviously knew better. I mean, he is 92, dont all 92-year-olds know best? So I listened and thanked him and told him stories about my coaches and the runs I had completed so far.

I saw him the weekend I ran my first 10-miler… the Jackrabbit race. He was very proud. It was cute.

My grandparents are another reason I am running. Grandpa did it — in his 60s nonetheless — so I want to do it too. And even though Grandma wasn’t pounding pavement with him, she guided him through life. Sixty-seven years together and they are still 100% in love with each other. Grandma’s dementia sometimes thinks there are two grandpas — which grandpa uses to his advantage blaming the not-so-good dinners on “the other guy” — but in her heart, he’s the only one that’s ever been there. He’s the one that makes her light up like she’s a 20-something year old in love for the first time.

And he still looks at her like a 20-something year old who found “the one.”

She goes home again the day after I run. Until then, they meet in the nursing home, try to hear each other's stories and and hold hands like they're on their first date.

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I’ve been slacking on the blogging. Oops. My bad. Rest assured my lack of blog love is not representative of my running love.

Quite the contrary actually… I had my best run EVER today! I also had my worst run ever earlier this week, but hey, no rain, no rainbow.

However, this entry isn’t about running; it’s about why my cousins, Suzanne and her husband Sean, are the awesomest parents ever! Let’s call them Seanzanne; they deserve a Hollywood name!

I am currently on Amtrak on my way to Seanzanne’s kids’ birthday party!

Jacquelyn turns 4 on Sept 11…

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…and Liam turns the big 1 on the 15th.

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And in lieu of adding more toys to the playroom pile, they have asked that their friends and family donate to the infamous half-marathon I am running for LLS. (Have I mentioned I’m doing that?)

How sweet are they? Here is the backstory.

Suzanne and I were close growing up. Well, not physically, we lived hours apart, but we spent summers on Long Island creating renditions of Ace of Base performances (along with cousin Katie we had a hot ladies trio) and practicing suntanning at the beach. When I visited them upstate we spent the days running around the mountain they lived on and helping grandma get her first speeding ticket — “Faster! Faster! Drive down the mountain as fast as you can!” *police sirens* (Oops!)

When we weren’t together, we wrote letters to each other like crazed pen-pals… seriously!

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Suzanne and I at the birfday party!

Growing up Suzanne dreamed of having a family with a wonderful hubby and fantastic kids, while I imagined being a back-up dancer to Madonna. As we “matured,” Suzanne continued to dream of chasing kiddies around and sought out a career in child care. (I, thanks to ADD, gave up the Madonna dream before I learned what a virgin was.)

When Sue married Sean after college I couldn’t have been happier for anyone. She had found her Prince Charming and they were both excited to embark on their happily ever after. They suit each other perfectly.

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You can imagine the impact of the news they received a few years later when Seanzanne was enjoying life with a lil baby girl — Sean was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease and had to go for chemo treatment.

Sean has been cancer-free for more than three years now!!! WOOO HOOO!!

Made from the same uncommunicative genes, Sue and I didn’t talk much about it, possibly not at all until recently. But when I realized at the information session that Hodgkins was under the LLS umbrella, it gave me a personal inspiration to run for LLS. When the runs get hard, knowing I’m running for a cause that’s helped someone I care about keeps me motivated!

Sean has made my cousin’s dreams come true. And for that reason alone I love him… it doesn’t hurt that he happens to be funny, ambitious and an awesome father and husband — even if he only eats chopped meat in certain shapes. (So weird!) Oh and we’re going running tomorrow. He used to run cross-country so he’s totally on board with this crazy training.

I am so appreciative that they are supporting my run so I can support a cause that has helped their family stay healthy and happy.

(You can too! Click HERE to donate and make sure to submit it in honor of “Jacquelyn and Liam” (under the Add Comment section) to wish them a very happy birthday!)

I also can’t wait to get there to bake cupcakes and chase the kiddies around. I mean, look at them. HOW CUTE ARE THEY?

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Happy Birthday!!!
LYLAC. xx

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When I texted my brother living in Seattle to tell him I was running the San Fran Nike Women’s half he teased me, “What? Was New York not good enough for you?”

Actually, it is the other way around. I, by no means, am good enough for the ING. But that’s not why I choose San Fran.

Ever since I was a kid I have envisioned myself in San Fran. Yet I’ve never seen the city.

I attribute this partly to my moms tale of the post-college day her friend showed up on her doorstep, bags packed, ready to hit the road and drive-country… and she didnt go.

I’m grateful she didn’t go, as otherwise I wouldn’t exist, but maybe part of her longing for the bay area wore off on me?

To satisfy our shared hunger I had suggested a month or so ago that we should take a long weekend there in honor of her ‘significant-age birthday’ and my pending ‘Year 3.0.’

When she called me back to say she could get time off in October, I had already found the Nike Womens half. It was a done deal. We were going to San Fran.

What’s more exciting than hanging out in SF with my mom (and hopefully my brother) is that she’ll be there to cheer me on. Running means nothing to my mom but her being there to see me accomplish one of the toughest endeavors of my life, to date, means A LOT to me.

Seeing things through and showing dedication to my endeavors is something I learned from my mom. It was one of the most important lessons I learned growing up.

When I wanted to quit dance to have more time with my friends, she made it clear that it wasnt an option.

Quitting was never an option. (But not in the grunting, winning the football championship kinda way; more of a ‘be responsible’ kinda way.)

And it’s how I live out most of my activities today. It’s hard to follow through entirely when I sign up for so damn much. But unless I have to give up sleep or sanity in order to accomplish something, believe me, it’ll get done.

Maybe I have something to prove… maybe I just thrive on the challenge… or maybe my mom just instilled the right values in me. Either way, I’m getting to San Fran and I’m finishing that bloody race.

And I have my mom to thank… And cheer me on! Love you mom!!

Me with mom celebrating her “significant-age” birthday at the NYC Highline.

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas may be over but the holiday came with many fabulous memories that are sure to last throughout 2011. Santa Claus, for one, spoiled me rotten: Mom and Dad Claus hooking me up with a Canon SLR (boost in photo quality to come). The best gift, however, was spending the last five days hanging out stress-free catching up with family and drinking and eating more than I thought possible. And with 18″+ inches of snowy winter wonderland outside, the last 24 hours included three puzzles, two movies and an alcohol-inspired walk to the pub followed by midnight shoveling party!

The biggest fan of the 2010 blizzard is, by far, Dora my Christmas-loving kitty who spent the entire day stalking the birds looking for food in the frozen bird-feeder and displaced bugs crawling on the 3′ high snow drifts. Each time a bird landed, her paw slapped the glass sending it off in a tizzy. When she wasn’t sitting in the window sill, she was cuddled under the Christmas tree — a place that served as a safe haven from my 3-year-old cousins who like to show their love with a tight hug around the neck.

To commemorate her first Christmas, Dora was invited to join in the celebration at her Grandparent’s house, and to meet her aunt and uncle (my parent’s cats), Jasmine and Oreo. She had no idea what she was getting into.

True to her curious personality, as soon as she found them, she followed them slyly wanting nothing more than to play. Jasmine on the other hand wanted nothing but to get away, and Oreo, well, he just wanted her to know whose house it is. But even though he is twice her size, my little munchkin stood her ground hissing at his advances as she attempted to slip out of sight under the couch.

Here she is watching Jasmine go outside. She’s thinking, “Mom, why can’t I go?”

Overall, the visit went well and she was invited back to spend the weekend when I go away in a couple weeks. By this time the Christmas tree will be down so she won’t be able to play “How high can I climb before getting caught?”  (She made it to about 5′ before she knocked off a glass ball and I had to drag her out of the branches by the scruff of her neck.)

Dora wasn’t without pressies either. Santa delivered her a perch so she can further her bird-watching hobby, and Aunt Azzy wrapped up a stuffed teddy bear on an elastic string and a packet of cat nip.

Cat nip doesn’t seem affect her too much. Not sure if she’s immune to the cat nip or she’s just got so much energy naturally that we can’t tell the difference. Either way, she loved rolling around in it.

 

I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas as much as Dora and I.
Enjoy the rest of your holiday celebrations, hiking through the snow and the remainder of 2010!!! What a year it’s been…

 

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Another As Told To…

Today I received the following from my roommate. After my recent post about the joys of living with my grandma, I think its only appropriate for the third lady in our household to speak her piece.

The Nomadic-Roommate
By Azadeh Zeyghami

Roommate AAA and myself on our last day in London together...

The Nomadic-Roommate appears to live with you but in actuality is never there. You may see reminisce of their existence, for example, laundry drying, toothbrush, stacks of mail suddenly disappearing from the staircase and reappearing in the trash.  They are often quiet, occasionally having short bursts of intense living in the same living-area as you. Only do disappear as soon as they suddenly appeared.

It is not uncommon for your Nomadic-Roommate to actually be an old acquaintances or a friend that has recently moved into your area from out-of-town or out-of-state.  They will most likely be very appreciative of their new home and promise that their living with you will only be temporary, and then stay there for the next three years!! Do choose your nomadic-friends carefully!  Unless they have substantial wealth in forms of a wonderful sense of humor, amazing party tricks, similar clothing taste and sizes or vacation home it is best to NEVER EVER invite them to ‘stay’ with you ‘until they get settled’.  In some cases they may become your dependent and no one wants that!!!

One recent case study brought many interesting items of the nomadic-roommate to light. The case-study includes one, Ms. AAA, who is a lovely and fun girl but has nomadic living sense-ability she has moved from her hometown of Wausau, to Madison, to England, to New York.  Most recently she has ‘moved’ into her boyfriends.  For those of you unfamiliar to the definition of nomadic living, the definition of nomadic-roommate is an individual whom ‘lives’ at a home-base, which is where they house most of their personal items, clothing and living essentials, and then having a smaller living space at another residence, where they might actually spend most of their time, but do not have many personal items at this other residence, this ‘other’ living space is often the nomad’s significant-other’s place but it may also be their office or parents home.  Ms. AAA is an interesting case study as she has a New York and Wisconsin home-base, in her New York home base she keeps most of her clothing and personal items, and in Wisconsin she keeps her treasures from her childhood, mostly of books and nick-knacks.

While the nomadic roommate’s room often remains unchanged, if your roommate’s room looks like it has been through a hurricane, it is best to assume that they were looking for a single item and when it could not be found, they tore the room apart trying to find it and hence the hurricane like appearance of their room.  Or they have been robbed and you may have and you should take a look at your own room.

While your nomadic-roommate may cause you some concern or just confusion you, please know that you are always in their thoughts.  When Ms. AAA was asked about how she felt when she hadn’t seen her own roommate, she said, ‘I miss her and think of her often. In some situations I sometimes think, ‘What would E do, say, think, feel, react, smell like in this situation?’ J

Published by Nonsense Statistics and Studies for the WWW © 2010

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Anything for Grandma!

Grandma and I hanging out with Max (the dog we fostered for 6 months) at the park.

This Saturday Grandma and I had our first Facebook lesson. Since it was the first time out, all we really covered was opening an account for her and showing her what it looks like. I’d been saying for a while now that I was going to do this — and even got an old eMac (with low resolution so the letters are big) specifically for her. However, each time I mentioned it she chuckled and shot me a look that said “Yeah riiiight, oooo-kay.” I think the look meant to imply both “When are you gonna get around this?” as well as “Me? Facebook? I don’t think so!”

So when she finished looking at photos of her new great-grandson on my account at the desktop and I turned my laptop around and exclaimed, “Check it out! I made you your own,” I half expected to be met with a dismissive handwave as she walked away.

Instead, she watched attentively. And when I explained the concept of having “friends,” she began asking questions, ‘What about this person; are they on here? Can I see this? Can I see that?’ She was tooooootally into it!

She rocks!

We added all the family members we could find, and even found four people from her high school ‘class of 192x.’ She didn’t remember any of them, but I think she liked seeing other people her age participating.

The next night we found the group my aunt made for her family, appropriately titled “Descendents of [grandma’s mom and dad].” My aunt put it together when my grandma’s sister passed away, making my grandma the last of her siblings. Grandma has had fun going through old photos and my aunt and her cousins are having fun trying to remember where the pictures are from.

Grandma had never seen the group in real-time, so we sat down and went through the 72 photos. She explained who was who, who had joined the army, where they had traveled to, how they ended up on the west coast, yada, yada. I felt ashamed at one point when I realized I couldn’t name all her sisters and brothers. Of course they were younger in the photo than I’d ever seen any of them, but still… what kind of granddaughter am I?

One photo in particular stood out. My great-uncle had moved to Cali after the war and got married there. The wedding photo posted is the only wedding photo anyone has ever seen of the event. Apparently something happened with the photographer and they never received the wedding photos. When one of his kids found this one photo and posted it, it was the first time my grandma had ever seen him and his bride in their wedding attire. “My parents never went to the wedding,” she told me. “They didn’t have the money.”

Wow! I thought about the reaction someone would have this day in age if their parents said they couldn’t afford to attend their wedding. Forget that, I’ve seen brides freak out on their girlfriends for not attending a destination bachelorette party that’s gonna run them $800 for three days. I mean, they have reality TV shows based on demanding, uncompromising brides. And here, my grandma had never even seen her brother and his bride on their big day. Wow!

Another cool thing was my grandma’s wedding dress. She bought it at Saks for $50 — which she notes, “was a lot back then!” She wore it and two of her sisters-in-law wore it. Her daughter would have also worn it, had not been slightly destroyed from a run through the washing machine. (Note: Don’t put satin in the washing machine!) And the veil my grandma wore? Her sister-in-law in Cali it to her (the one who’s wedding she couldn’t attend), and two more people wore it after her. Talk about getting use out of your wedding gear.

And here we are, worried about wearing the same dress to two different weddings, of people who don’t know each other, and we’re only guests.

I couldn’t help but wonder after that: What are we looking for when we shop? Does it make us happier?

Every story my grandma has is one of happiness. It was one that brought a smile to her face. And none of them were about shopping or buying things or any stuff she owned. The stories were about the people she loved and the things she did with them.

I’m an adult. (Or at least I like to think so.) Years ago, I thought that at this point in my life I’d be living it up in the city. And I guess I could be. But when I stop and think about it, I recognize all the time I’ll miss not being near Grandma.

Saturday breakfasts on the patio where I ramble all my blog ideas to her and she confirms that they are awesome. (She’s an amazing confidence booster!) Her rants about the Mets blowing it in the last inning. (She’s been watching them for decades and she still seems surprised when they do that!) Sunday night dinners when she decides to stray from her usual cheese and crackers diet and whips up a meatloaf. And weekend mornings when I plead for help at Wordscraper on Facebook because my friend is always 200 points ahead of me. (Ever play a game with her? She doesn’t know the meaning of losing! Always get her on your team!) Or how cute she is when she asks ME for help on a crossword puzzle. She knows I’m crap at them so when she asks I know she’s really desperate.

Hanging at home with her reminded me of what I’d miss. And what I do miss when I’m running around like a lunatic trying to tame life.

But she says that our running around is what keeps her young. So if I’m her fountain of youth, I guess I’ll keep running around like a lunatic.

Anything for grandma!

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