When My Number Is Up

Four years ago, when I got lab tests back from a physical exam, I saw that my fasting blood glucose was 119 (it should be less than 100).  The rest of the studies were normal, and my doctor didn’t mention the blood sugar, but it nagged at me for four years.  Was I pre-diabetic?  Was I having insulin resistance?  Was I on the road to Accu-Cheks and shooting myself in the stomach every day?

So I brought it up at my last visit a couple of weeks ago.  She resisted rolling her eyes, and told me that it would take two consecutive readings of greater than 126 to even begin a work-up for diabetes.  As sophisticated and significant as modern laboratory tests are, sometimes the numbers are just random and strange, and mean nothing.  Sometimes they’re just numbers.

Then there was the scale.  Up until that visit, I hadn’t actually stepped on a scale as far as I can recall in almost a year.  After using a couple of iPhone apps to keep track of my intake and exercise, I figured I had this whole weight thing down to a practical application of data.  If I eat this much and exercise this long, I stay the same, lose weight, or gain weight, depending on what I had in mind.  The scale is a nice tool but a pain to rely on, since it has a bad habit of telling you what you weigh.  Which doesn’t necessarily mean anything, or at least what you’re interested in, which for me is what pants I can wear.

The only way to use a scale, I eventually decided, was to be relentless about it, weigh every day, under identical conditions, and identical conditions are hard to do.  So with enough data, and enough aligning of this data with the scale, I figured I could ditch the early-morning weigh-ins and still know where I was.

And it seemed to work, at least in terms of pants.

This meant that I held a virtual weight in my mind as I went to the clinic.  It was a fasting, dry, underwear-and-socks virtual weight, so I was prepared for some discrepancy.  Jeans, shoes, sweater, coffee, oxygen, doubt, anxiety (hey, they must weigh something), normal variation in scales, particularly since mine didn’t actually exist – I was prepared to see a weight from 5 to 10 pounds higher than I had in mind, not a problem.

But it was 19 pounds higher.

Not that it raised any eyebrows.  My doctor was as happy as a busy practitioner can afford to be with my physical status, particularly given my past and my current age.  But nag?  This nagged.

How come my clothes fit the way my virtual scale says they should?  More importantly, how could my careful, borderline-obsessive record keeping have let me down?

By letting me down, of course.  By being numbers, neutral, incapable of lying.  You weigh what you weigh.  You would weigh more if you carry 50 pounds of books in your arms.  You would weigh less if you were on the moon.  You would weigh nothing if you hung around in orbit.  You would weigh a lot if you weighed a lot.  And so on.

None of this, of course, matters, at least in my case.  Those jeans still fit.

It’s possible that all these years of moving my legs have created muscle, which weighs more than fat, although I see no signs of muscles.  It’s more likely that I just burn fewer calories on a daily basis than I think; it would only take an error of 200 calories daily or so to add 10 pounds over the course of a year.  That’s probably it.  I’m probably in a metabolic slowdown.  I can adjust, if I want.  Or I can just stop worrying over stupid numbers.

Like my latest blood glucose level, which came back at 105.  Still a bit over normal, but less than last time.  What does that mean?

It means nothing, as it turns out, and nothing is actually a number, if I can only learn to understand that.  Here’s to learning to appreciate zero, then, in terms of health issues if not bank balances.  I can probably live with that.

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Me Or My Lying Eyes

I mentioned to a friend on Facebook yesterday that lately I seem to have become a debunking crusader on social media, compelled to spontaneously point out how friends are being duped.  This is not only obnoxious and probably pointless, but it’s also a good way to lose friends.  Must resist.

And you know what?  It’s not that I think they’re gullible, although some are.  What compels me, I think, is this nagging worry that we’re becoming desensitized to obvious signs of fakery, since everybody seems to be doing it.  If you want to believe that Donna the Deer Lady is a real person who really believes that deer cross obediently at Deer X-ing signs, ignoring the long history of this particular joke, what’s the harm?  Other than maybe wondering why we’re so eager to believe other people are dumber than we are, I mean.

The harm, I think, is in confirmation bias, a psychological effect that’s produced a lot of comedy material along with one major media player (FOX News, but duh).  Tell people something they want to believe, something they already sort of believe, and they’ll ignore the signals that should alert them that maybe, just maybe, this is all smoke being blown up their backsides.  So they’ll believe that Obama is handing out free cell phones to poor (i.e., black) people and changing “welfare” so that nobody has to ever look for a job (or, to be fair, that Romney doesn’t worry about poor people or is cruel to animals).

Anyway.  I need to stop, and I try.  I remain skeptical about most everything I read or see, refuse to watch cable news or pretty much any news, assume that any story that feels perfect is probably seriously flawed, and don’t believe in Donna anymore than I believe in Rudolph’s shiny nose.  But I’ll try to keep my mouth shut.  I don’t have that many friends.

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I’m renewing my Love Actually Project for another Christmas, since I got such a good response last year.  Mostly this is out of curiosity, testing the waters of old-fashioned media a year later.  Plus, I like hearing from people.

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And speaking of being skeptical, here’s something that reminds us to not always believe our lying eyes.

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Wednesday Archives

Wednesday has been Column Day for 11 years, and over 11 years some stuff will happen. My rule of thumb is that one should not re-read oneself unless one is willing to pay the emotional price, which usually involves groaning, but at least it’s some sort of record of what I was thinking, or not thinking. Some of these are collected in my books, but I’ve decided to ignore that for the time being and just find one from the past, every Wednesday, and post. If not for your edification, then mine. Groans are acceptable.

From November 29, 2010.

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It sat on my desk, unwatched, for 4 weeks.  Exactly.  I counted.

I was aware of the “Avatar” ripples that swept across the planet last year.  Of course.  And I read about it, I knew what it was, I knew what to expect.  And several friends told me to go see it, all of them saying about the same thing: It won’t rock your world, but you should go anyway.  Just for the experience, for the technology, for the novelty.

And I guess I meant to, but I didn’t, and eventually I rented it.  And still I meant to watch.

There is absolutely nothing going on here, no passion one way or the other.  I think I just wasn’t in the mood.  After a month, I watched about 15 minutes.  It was pretty to look at, mildly interesting, and then I mailed it back.  Maybe another time.

I have a theme, I realized the other day.  This happens; I’ll start thinking about an idea, and then it’ll creep out into everything I do.  Currently it seems to be this: We’re lacking a coherent popular culture in this country, diluted by too many choices.

Not just culture, either, but that’s another topic.

I’m tempted to say we’re lacking a water cooler topic, but then I also suspect we’re lacking a water cooler.

Numbers?  The most-watched television program in American history was last year’s Super Bowl (Saints beat the Colts, in case you missed it; good game), barely edging out the final episode of “M*A*S*H” in 1983, with an estimated total audience of 106 million viewers, approximately a third of the country.  On the other hand, there were about 70 million fewer people in 1983 in the U.S., making the “M*A*S*H” audience nearly 50% of the population.

Contrast that with “Dancing With The Stars,” the current ratings superstar, which produced the now-stunning audience of over 20 million for its 10th season debut (although started dropping almost immediately).  In case you don’t want to do the math, that’s about 6% of the country, men, women and children.  One out of 17.  And, again, it dropped off to almost half that.  Let’s just say if you’re looking to find someone to talk with about last night’s show, statistically you might need to go to a mall.

Then there are the Avatar-like gaps we all have, things we meant to experience but somehow never got around to, or else weren’t interested in.  Some people don’t like football.  Some people don’t watch TV.  I personally have never read “Madame Bovary.”  I hear it’s good.

But one gap was corrected last week, long overdue according to some, by which I mean my family, and by which I mean mostly my daughter, who was in town for Thanksgiving and decided to fix me.

She does this.  And it could be worse; on more than one occasion, she’s dyed my hair.  For example.

She decided it was high time I watched the “Lord of the Rings” movies, that it was a disgrace that I had not yet done so.

I had my reasons.  For one thing, it’s my feeling that if a story has armor, castles, wizards, swords and swashbuckling, it also had better have characters named Arthur and Merlin.  And elves should make cookies.  Otherwise, not real interested.

Also, I was aware that each of these movies was approximately 11 hours long.

But I watched all three, over the course of two nights, as the turkey defrosted and pies were baked and everybody but me played with their phones while Aragorn resisted his birthright and Frodo climbed a lot of mountains.

OK.  They were good.  Really, really good, actually, very impressive.  My resistance was always going to be futile but I got into them, sort of, after a bit.  Good acting, beautiful scenery, spectacular effects.

There wasn’t a list, so I can’t cross anything off, but it’s one less thing, maybe.  One less thing for someone to wish for on my behalf, one less cultural titan to observe, one less conversation to have about why Chuck is out of the loop, stuck in a closed circuit of Beatles music, historical biographies, “Mad Men,” and Gene Hackman movies.  I’ve expanded my horizons, maybe, although I can’t say that LOTR changed my life significantly.

But I read the Tolkien books in college, and now I’ve seen the films, and if I die tomorrow no one will mourn my lack of Hobbit experience.  And maybe I’ll get around to “Madame Bovary” one of these days.

Certainly my daughter is off my case now, at any rate, and we had a wonderful holiday.  The weather was snowy and cold, the fire was stoked, the food was excellent and the company better.  And my hair remains its natural color, which is enough reason to give thanks if you ask me.

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The Amazon Dream

I told Julie this morning that I was scattered, which is not an unusual occurrence but today, not so much in an unorganized way: In a too-many-things-on-my-mind way.  I need to sort through some stuff and find a theme, maybe, or at least make a hierarchy.  Otherwise I’ll make everybody crazy.

A Cyber Monday thought, though, after the fact.  Maybe two thoughts.

First, “cyber” is a stupid word, obsolete and never all that accurate, and I have no idea why we still use it for dumb stuff like this.

Second, most of my shopping days are Cyber Mondays, even on Tuesday.  I’m much more comfortable shopping on Amazon than trying to muster up the social skills required to go outside and find a parking place.  Also, I like getting packages.

But there is a price, and I pay it and know about it, and sometimes forget it.  I read this Mac McClelland piece last winter when it was written, but re-read it last night with topical (and open) eyes.  It might open yours, too.  Working in a warehouse like this sounds like a nightmare that I personally probably have a few times a year.  All the elements are there: Lots of space, lots of people, time crunches and always running.  Not to mention static electricity jolts.  This is a really bad dream.

And I’m part of the problem, assuming it’s a problem, and not part of the solution at all.  I can’t improve working conditions in places like this, and what about the jobs these people need?  There are shitty jobs, we all know them or have them or would be grateful, maybe, to have them.  And there are worse ones than these.

But because I want to order my stuff online, and because I want to get that stuff as fast as possible, and because there are millions and millions of people like me, we’ve now created a warehouse work force, thousands of temp workers with no benefits and no job security, scurrying around big open spaces trying to find my iPhone case.

Wow.  I just realized I’ve had that exact dream.  Except maybe it was a wallet.

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Lessons

My son likes to do Christmas shopping on Black Friday, something he decided years ago, now a tradition.  He goes to Everett Mall, the minor mall, which he claims is never crowded, something he would definitely notice.

This year, he ended up going on Gray Saturday, just a scheduling conflict with a couple of friends who wanted to join him.  This is a group of young men, sometimes three and occasionally four, who met in various Special Ed classes and bonded, apparently.  If you’re a snide and casually cruel person, you could imagine these socially challenged guys, oblivious to norms and obviously different, wandering through the stores, talking loudly, laughing inappropriately, making odd shopping choices and drawing curious looks from other shoppers, and you would be exactly right.

I’ve tried to talk him out of this craziness, but he’s a stubborn guy when it comes to a lot of things and he knows what he knows, so I just serve as chauffer.  And when I picked him up Saturday afternoon, as he stood with his friend outside the entrance to the food court, their arms loaded with packages for moms and sisters and grandmothers, I thought about how they were finished with Christmas shopping with a full month to spare, and I wouldn’t even think about it for another three weeks, and I wondered if the school district would accept me in one of their classes, obviously needing some special education of my own.

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Something About Sunday

Today there is sun, a little weather murmur, an aside, a comment sort of casually tossed off in the middle of this season, not something we take seriously up here.  It started on Thanksgiving, which was free of rain, and apparently will extend through tomorrow and maybe Tuesday, but it’s fooling nobody.  Sunny weather in late November is a stranger who talks too loudly, shakes your hand and holds on a little too long; we’re suspicious and want to back away.  I would not say that we are a trusting people when it comes to sun, no I wouldn’t.

I listened to a nice conversation yesterday from “On Being,” a podcast I tried last year and eventually gave up on, figuring the investment might be disappointing, but this was pleasure.  Host Krista Tippett talked with Brene Brown, and while it was a little jargon-y (sociology types seem to be big on verbs, like “own” and “learn” and “bring,” as if trying to juice up the field) it was fascinating at the same time, talking about vulnerability and shame, although, y’know: Not in a bad way.

What it was, though, was a conversation, and that’s what I like and miss.  These are the podcasts I enjoy, when I’m working around the house, or sometimes walking; eavesdropping on articulate people having actual conversations about things that interest them, and in turn interest me.  I’m too aware of my own isolation to generalize about a society that is too busy and fast, faces buried in phones, to have conversations anymore; I know I don’t see many people, or talk to them.  I just know I’d like to, or at least like to listen, and so technology gives me a chance.

I’m not particularly interested in vulnerability and shame, having integrated both of them a long time ago.  There was a period in my life when shame was all I could hang my hat on, and I was grateful for it.  It was fun to listen to, though, and think about.

I’m either recovering from a mild cold or just starting one, haven’t decided, and it’s a busy weekend and that leftover pie in the fridge is not going to eat itself, and I can’t help thinking I really need to run the lawnmower over the front yard one time more before February, since the rain came suddenly and persistently before I got around to it, but tomorrow is also another day.  I’m just trying to be realistic here; I have my limits, energy and time and health and attitude, and also I believe I mentioned something about not trusting the sun at all.  It’s now spreading light all over my front yard, as I can see from my window, trying to make me feel guilty about being inside with a sore throat and a stuffy nose.  Shame.

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A Modest Proposal

I read the other day that only 3.5% of Americans exercise on a regular basis, despite all the screaming headlines and the simplicity of the theory.  Move a little every day, reap the benefits, but we’re busy.  I guess.

Or that’s your excuse.  Me, I have no idea, just noting that the past few weeks have been pretty spotty and unhealthy in terms of kinetic health maintenance.  Weather doesn’t help, as we’re solidly into what passes for winter up here, which of course is autumn.  It rained enough last week to produce a tiny leak in my garage roof – really the least of my worries, my garage roof – that in turn produced a small puddle, which in turn I transformed into a minor garage flood by virtue of a ShopVac that doesn’t seem to seal well anymore.  It was a pretty minor annoyance but it kept me occupied for an hour or so, and I guess I could count that as exercise if I insist on lying.

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I’ve noticed an uptick in minor grievances writ large, at least in social media, as the seasons turn here.  And maybe it’s that, just the darkness, although it’s funny what irks people.  A friend of mine went off at length the other day on the word “preventative,” which he seems to think is a plague.  I did my own little battle with this for a few years, since it’s used extensively in the healthcare field and I’ve spent a lot of time in that particular field, but eventually I got used to it.  “Preventive” somehow feels wrong to us, I’m guessing, for some odd unconscious reason, and so “preventative” (like “representative”) has become an accepted alternative, but try telling it to this guy.

It’s not just that we have more forums to vent these days, or maybe it is.  I do think it would be nice to have a national day set aside for this kind of intolerance, though, just to get it all out and move on.  I could rail against knitters and pathological readers and public noseblowers and college football fans and then be done with it.  Somebody start that.

Oh.  And the annual Inappropriate Christmas Stuff complainers, who are legion and existed long before Facebook.  These people are not only suspicious of but vehemently opposed to premature calendar flipping.  Let a stray piece of tinsel show up before Thanksgiving and they’re good for a thousand words or so about the world going to hell in a consumer culture-driven handbasket.

I happen to love Christmas, so much so that I never seem to find the motivation to remove Christmas songs from my iPhone shuffle system.  It’s a little disconcerting to hear Andy Williams singing about sleigh rides when I’m walking in July, but it’s not bad, you know?  It’s a reminder that goodness, or at least musical goodness, is coming my way, somewhere down the road.

So now we’re allowed to indulge rant-free, I assume, and last night JK filled the house with Christmas music.  This makes me feel better, somehow, although I still need to get back on the daily exercise horse today, cover my multitude of sins (i.e., pie) and see if I can smooth out my sleep patterns.  Here’s to Andy Williams, then, who passed away this year but lives on, and here’s to National Vent Day, too.  Somebody get on that.  ‘Tis the season, etc.

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Not-So-Black Friday

Tara Parker-Pope decided to add up Thanksgiving, just to see if it was that big of a deal.  She thinks not so much.

Me too.  Thanksgiving has always been the mental model for me when thinking about how we perceive food, overeating and dangerous days, and particularly how we associate the weight of food with its energy, which are two different things.  Two pounds of broccoli would probably leave you nauseated and stuffed (assuming you could actually eat the stuff), and give you a calorie count of around a cookie (about 250 calories).  Two pounds of white meat turkey would jump to about 1600 calories, and there would be definite nausea.

But assuming a lot of us eat most of our food on Thanksgiving in one big meal, some snacking around the edges, I doubt it’s that big of a deal, and so what if it is?  Even if the average person consumes 4500 calories as they say, that’s still a weight gain of maybe two-thirds of a pound, unless you’re a tiny person (in which you can’t eat that much, probably).  An overweight person might barely nudge the scale.

Of course, the scale will nudge all on its own, but that’s just the weight, again.  It might shoot up 2-3 pounds the next day, but only because your body is restocking the shelves, putting that energy in the proper places, working things out.  It’ll drop back down, and of course we could help things along by cutting back the next day, although good luck with that.

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Our day was busy for me, with work obligations to do in between calorie counting, but we managed to slip away and be with friends, a nice way to give thanks.  The mocha pie thing turned out OK, although I’d love to do it again, learning as I did, and maybe I will.

And we have our own turkey waiting in the fridge to be plopped into our oven today, giving us good smells and yet another reason to say grace, and appreciate grace.  Gratitude is not nearly as hard as sometimes I think, and sometimes it just takes a sacrificial bird and some bacon to remind me.

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Inching Along Toward The G-Word

If there’s a debate over the innate goodness of pies, I will always be on one side, no doubt.  Pies are troublemakers, though; there’s just a little too much bliss.  They tip the scales in many ways, lead us down the path to hedonism and indulgence and Too Much.  So I tend to stay away.

But I do like making them, particularly the crusts.  I spent a day a few years ago learning to make pie crusts, and the challenge never gets dull.  Creating a pie crust in living on the edge of bakery, working fast with disaster smirking constantly.  I can dig it.

Last night I tried a recipe I’d been hanging onto for a while, a mocha crunch thing, not really my type of pie but it sounded good.  The crust is a single shell, a crumb thing sort of like a graham cracker crust except more annoying, and any recipe that overuses “about,” as this one does, makes me crazy.  Bake the crust for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees.  At 18 minutes the edges were burned, but to hell with the edges.  I didn’t invest a lot in this pie, to be honest.  My heart wasn’t in it completely, which is why the temptation to go to the store this morning, buy more ingredients, make the damn thing again and scoop the filling out of the original, burned shell is just that, temptation.  Resistance is not that futile, but the day is young.

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The medical assistant at my doctor’s office measured my height the other day.  “We usually take off half an inch,” she said, although she didn’t explain.  “About half an inch?” I was tempted to ask, even pre-pie baking, but I let it go.  Looking through my vital signs over the past few years, they have my height fluctuating from 5’11 to 6’1 in the chart (the current measurement was 5’11-3/4”, pretty consistent with my entire adult life, before they arbitrarily knocked off that half-inch so I wouldn’t get cocky or whatever).

It was my weight, though, that surprised me.  It was a good 12 pounds heavier than I would have said, had I been asked, and that’s allowing for all sorts of variables.  “You’ve lost so much weight!” my doctor said on seeing me for the first time in four years, although according to her numbers I weighed almost exactly the same.  I’ve been her patient for 15 years, though; there were a lot of heavy years in those, and she can’t be expected to have perfect recall of one particular patient, I get that.

It didn’t bother me, this sudden weight gain, just confused me.  It’s perfectly acceptable, given everything, but I haven’t stepped on a scale in months, preferring to leave vagaries out of my life and let numbers and Levis tell the tale.  I was feeling so light, though, and now not so much, and a good, realistic look in the mirror when I came home (and getting on my scale) confirmed all this.  There is some flab, no question, and that stomach?  You only think it’s flat.  It’s not really flat at all.

It doesn’t change anything.  The only thing that will change is something I want to change, and that will depend on all sorts of things.  My doctor and I, the same age, shared our existential neutrality about a lot of issues during our visit.  Sometimes you’re just glad to be here, and who takes their shirt off in public?  Exactly.

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I told Beth yesterday that I was a little giddy about my doctor’s visit, meaning that the reaction was what I hoped for

Go away, you and your stupid health, come back in a year, I have actual sick people to see

and the lab results were excellent.  Good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, total cholesterol (none of it actually cholesterol, of course) all perfect.  Electrolytes nicely balanced, blood sugar fine, blood pressure and heart and lungs and everything else.  Existential neutrality again.  Let’s keep it this way.

I’m grateful for all of this, of course; who knows what could have been?  And for my nice doctor, and for electronic medical records that I can check myself online, and for health insurance again after my years in the black hole, right on the event horizon of the American healthcare system.  Grateful.

And I’m grateful for the note I got from a newspaper reader the other day.  It is obvious from your various columns that you’ve had your share of heartbreak, concern, and pain, yet you persevere and succeed in not letting those aspects of your life blind and cripple you from seeing what you have that is to be cherished and appreciated. Yikes.  Have I been whining that much in print, leading people to ponder blindness and crippling?

But yeah.  There are plenty of shares of heartbreak and pain, no question.  This year I’ve heard some stories and experienced some myself, not nearly as much as in previous years, and am I grateful for that?  Oh yes, and more.  I am grateful for gratitude, in fact, and that’s what I wrote about this week, I think.  That, and my food processor, and peanuts, and being alive to enjoy them, not sweating the burnt edges, and weighing whatever.  Take about a half an inch off, feel free.  I know how tall I am, and what matters.

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Wednesday Archives

Wednesday has been Column Day for 11 years, and over 11 years some stuff will happen. My rule of thumb is that one should not re-read oneself unless one is willing to pay the emotional price, which usually involves groaning, but at least it’s some sort of record of what I was thinking, or not thinking. Some of these are collected in my books, but I’ve decided to ignore that for the time being and just find one from the past, every Wednesday, and post. If not for your edification, then mine. Groans are acceptable.

From November 19, 2008.

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It was the latitude more than anything.  Not the weather.  Not the strangeness of the city or the geography, the proximity of salt water, the diversity of the population, the funny-sounding names of cities and rivers.  That was part of it, surely, part of the sense of disorientation I had, transplanted in a matter of moments, it seemed, from what and where I knew into a strange, rainy place, but mostly, that November, it was dark.

Dark sooner, I mean, the byproduct of living on a round planet.  My wife and I were steeped in the Southwest; it was where our roots were and what we were used to, and if it occurred to us back then that a move of some 1200 miles was going to alter our relationship with the sun, it was probably clouds we were thinking about, not the clock.

So the early twilight is what I remember from my first fall in the Northwest, the feeling that I’d lost days I would never get back.  Walking out of work at 5pm into the night was a good excuse for melancholy and locking doors.  It was a rough November.

I’m thinking now that the scarcity of light must stimulate a specific neurotransmitter that forces me to find old photographs.  I did that the other day, in fact, opened a box filled with actual prints, pictures I could take out and touch as opposed to viewing on a monitor, sliding by effortlessly, no energy required and no passion involved.

One picture surprised me; I’d forgotten it existed.  I can place it in time and space; it was taken sometime in the spring of 1988, and the place was about 10 feet below where I’m sitting right now.  We were looking at houses that spring, and this is the one we picked.  After our bid was accepted, we came back with a key and took pictures.  In this particular one, I’m walking through an unfinished basement with a small child.  Somehow I’d forgotten that, too, how little she was.  At 3 years old, I could still scoop her up with one arm and haul her around, and be glad to do it, too.

I’m surprised at what she doesn’t remember, although I shouldn’t be.  Still, I test her memory sometimes, mention people or times or events in her life, and she raises an eyebrow, as if wondering if I’ve lost my mind, finally, or why something as inconsequential as a particular day or a person or a broken dish or a scary movie should matter to me now.

It all matters, I’m tempted to tell her, and all consequential, but then I have a different perspective.  I’m also tempted to tell her that the unexpected joy of parenting, the one I didn’t see coming but makes perfect sense now, is simply being able to see the story from the beginning.

Children weren’t on my mind that first November; mostly I was concerned with keeping warm and finding a parking place, as I recall.  A year later, though, as the pictures prove, we were about to enter a new life.  Some shaky video from Thanksgiving 1984 reveals my wife eating relentlessly, talking constantly and balancing a plate on something she’d never had before, which in this case was a stomach.  Three weeks later, nudging the winter solstice, another dark day, we made that cinematic journey from our apartment to the labor and delivery suite, and suddenly the sun didn’t matter quite so much.

My daughter called me a few minutes ago, actually, mid-paragraph.  She described her New England November.  “It’s very apocalyptic here,” she said, meaning Boston, where she lives.  “The trees are suddenly stripped of leaves.  You can feel everything dying.”

She wasn’t melancholy at all; her mood was cheery, in fact, knowing that holidays were coming up and her wedding dress had just arrived in the mail, lovely and graceful and practical, as she is.  And because she’s coming home soon.

“I was just thinking about you,” I said, but it’s funny how that happened.  I started writing this with a goofy story in mind, a little post-election, pre-recession silliness to relieve my anxiety and maybe yours for a minute, and suddenly it turned into this.

See, I could write a lot of columns on how to deal with November in the Northwest; a quarter-century has left me with survival skills, a lot of them having to do with windshield wipers and proper shoes, but dark days are dealt with best, it seems to me, by finding ourselves some light where we can.

And, as it turns out, my light arrives at SeaTac this coming Saturday afternoon, bubbly and excited and probably too thin for my taste, red-haired and grown-up and too big to haul around under my arm, although surely I would try, and suddenly November doesn’t bother me at all.

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