Beautiful day / Beautiful run

When the sun was shining brightly outside our office windows, I knew I would be having a good run when work was done.

I wore a long-sleeve on this Thursday run but quickly became warm.

It didn’t matter though. As I trotted at my leisurely pace, I ran toward one of the best parks in Seattle to get a great view of downtown from — Jefferson Park (conveniently located near my work).

I passed a mother pushing her baby in a stroller while her toddler walked close by. As soon as I passed them, I hear the light but heavy foot steps of a small child. It was the boy I just ran by. He was frantically sprinting with all his might. I slowed down so he could catch me. We ran side by side for a few paces while he grinned from ear to ear.

“You’re a really fast runner!” I said to him.

He continued to sprint and smile.

“You should probably go back to your mom though,” I said while still running and pointing back in the direction of mom and the stroller.

His mother started calling his name since now we were at what I would consider to be an “unsafe” amount of distance a small child should be from his or her parent. The boy zipped around and started running back toward his mom.

I was having a great run.

Once I reached the park, I was now running with a big ‘ol grin on my face.

On my return to my work building, a second child also started running after me. What is it with children who want to out-sprint me? It was cute. I again slowed down for this second child to catch me.

It was a beautiful sunny day and a beautiful sunny run.

Identity crisis

Why is it that when new people meet you, they want to “know what you do?”

Even if they don’t come right out and say, “What do you do for a living?” you’re already halfway through telling them about your 9-to-5 job. (Or, in my case, my 7-to-3:30 job).

I do it all the time. This morning I did a 5K with my little buddy, a 3rd grader who I was paired up with to get her to the finish line. I met her a few weeks ago at her school and we did a practice 5K with the other girls in the program and their running buddies. Today was the real deal.

When I met her parents before the race started, we talked briefly about — of course — what I do. I told them that I work in clinical research at a hospital. Suddenly they seemed really impressed. I think the words “clinical” and “research” put together automatically make you seem smarter than you actually are.

But then I — of course — back-pedaled a little.

“Well, I was a journalism major though,” I said. (Minus 5 smart points right there). “My first job out of college was as a reporter at a weekly newspaper,” I added. (Minus 10 smart points for that).

Telling people that I am in clinical research feels like it’s a lie. But, it’s not. I do work in clinical research! But, it doesn’t consume my identity. I feel like my ex-job as a reporter describes me better as a person. But I also keep telling myself that I never want to go back to reporting.

What is a girl to do?

My 3rd grader “E” and I ran and walked side by side for 3.1 miles this morning in the cold, drizzly Seattle weather. At the end of the race, I asked her if she was going to keep up running now that the program was over. She replied with an, “Ummmm, probably not.” I then asked her if she was going to do this program in the spring when the next session starts and without hesitation she said, “Yes.”

Maybe E is a little like me, having a bit of an identity crisis. She wasn’t thrilled about running — what 3rd grader is? — but she is already looking forward to doing the running-based program again.

Also, let me add that E is 8 years old and just completed her first 5K. I was 14 when I became a 5K finisher.

The kids are all right

The kids here use iPod Touches in the classroom! I mean, I’m sure their savvy parents use iPhones so they are used to the hi-tech-ness of it all anyway. They are learning to read (with the iPods). They record themselves reading aloud, and then they playback the recording later where they listen intently on the words that they mess-up/slip-up on. If there’s a word they don’t know, they can look up the definition on one of the many APPS loaded on said iPod. And then they will record a second perfect version. Yay, education. So what if we have to cut teachers’ pay (or full teaching positions!) These kids have iPods! And that is cool!

Little first-grader Aiden uses his iPod to take a picture of himself and inserted a talking bubble that reads “I’m looking smart.” Don’t worry. The kids are all right. And the future for them (and us) is bright — because they have iPods in the classroom that help them with reading comprehension!

I’m majoring in Defense Against the Dark Arts

“It is our choices, Harry, that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

I have this feeling of excitement, but it’s followed closely by some sadness — even dread. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – part 2 comes to theaters July 15. This is less than a month away, which is exciting! But, it also means that the series I have revolved vacations, sleep-deprivation and other fun around will soon all be over. It was difficult enough when the seventh book was released. I cried about three times throughout reading it — yes, I know. I hardly ever cry but when you become so invested in something, the characters tug at your heart. Oh, Hedwig!

I admit it. I was a skeptic. I didn’t get into HP — I say “HP” so often that my friends know I am referring not to Hewlett Packard, but the boy-wizard series — as quickly as everyone else. But some teacher, class or one when I was in the seventh grade convinced me to give Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone a try, so I did. And I loved it. And I read the second and third in the same week. And then I had to wait for the fourth installment to be released! Oh, the waiting. Finally summer arrived and my cousins and I donned our capes (we didn’t have robes yet) and glasses and bought our copy of The Goblet of Fire at midnight. Don’t tell anyone but that one has always been my favorite.

[This looks like I could be on a set of Harry Potter, yeah? I’m on the left.]

The summer before college I was bored? thought it would be fun(ny)? to write letters to Harry, Ron and Hermione — and to the woman who started it all, J.K. Rowling (and it’s “rolling,” as in, rhymes with “bowling.”) I wrote fan mail for the first time. I’m not quite sure what I wrote but I’d like to think I kept it short and sweet. My first response came three months later from Daniel Radcliffe. Because the return address on the envelope read United Kingdom but didn’t have a name, my dad thought it was “suspicious mail” and opened it out in the backyard in anticipation that someone —maybe the Dark Lord! — was trying to anthrax me. (We can use anthrax as a verb, right?) I wasn’t expecting any of them to reply so the generic type-written “letter from Dan” was a grand surprise. It even included a glossy 8.5 by 11 autographed photo of him. Letters from Emma Watson and J.K. soon followed. I never heard back from Weasley. That jerk. Someone told me to never trust redheads …

You can make fun of me all you want (at my face, behind my back, whatever) but know that an era is ending. Sure, this new Pottermore will be coming out, but that doesn’t matter. Never will we be able to read a new HP book — which may be as well, that epilogue was painful to read. I guess it’s a good thing she didn’t push it to eight books. And (after this last one,) never will we dress up at midnight to see the newest HP movie.

Dumbledore lives.

The sister who wanted a sister, but got a brother

Us circa 1992

My bro — as in my blood brother (no, we aren’t part of a gang) — are four years apart in age. I am four years (and then some) wiser than he is. I distinctly remember being at the hospital when he was born. A nurse carried me around the lobby and then she gave me some markers and I drew pictures of penguins. Actually, I think she was the one that drew penguins since I don’t think I was that artistically skilled at age 4. I knew I was going to get a new baby. I’m not sure that I knew that baby was going to be a boy.

I always wanted a sister. We would share our secrets with each other! We would trade clothes! We would scheme against our parents! We would eat junk food together and not feel guilty! We would go shopping together!

That wasn’t what happened.

Not that I was a girly-girl but I ended up owning more Legos and K’Nex than Barbie dolls since we shared some toys. I became very skilled at assembling a Thomas the Tank Engine railroad track since that was one of his favorite activities. We fought. One time I slammed the door on him and (accidentally) squished his pinky finger. One time he decided it would be a good idea to bite me on the back — I had a flesh wound that bled from that.

Even though I never got the sister I always wanted, I am fine with that. I have Michael. He may be lazy. He may spend too long in the bathroom taking a shower sometimes. He may send me a text late into the night asking me how to write a cover letter. But I’d take all of that than be an only child.

I’m decent at old school Nintendo games because of him. I always tried to do my best in everything because I wanted “to set a good example for him.” We share a similar sense of humor, which makes it easier for making fun of our mom without her realizing it. He is thoughtful and considerate.

Oh, and did I mention that he got a job with the Seattle Mariners? I’m proud to have a brother. And, lucky him — he gets to have an awesome sister!

He turns 20 today. Happy Birthday, Michael.

The bro with his “little sister”

Wait, wait, don’t tell me!

I run into my former children everywhere. At the grocery store. Downtown. At the park when I’m on a run. This morning it was at the neighborhood library. I worked at a preschool off and on (typically full-time in the summers and part-time during school) from when I was a junior in high school until a little while after graduating college. I don’t know how many years that was, but it was a lot. And that means I have wiped the noses, read books to, played tag with and facilitated art projects with many children ages 5 and younger. You can’t expect me to remember all of their names, right?

When I saw the two boys — much taller and older looking than the last time I saw them a year ago — I immediately remembered the younger one’s name. “Oh, there’s Galen,” I thought to myself. But, I couldn’t remember his mom’s name. I was pretty sure it was Denise but not 100 percent sure. So, I just shouted out Galen’s name to get the attention of the three of them. The boys looked up at me and their mom started talking to me, asking me what I have been up to, etc etc. She remembered my name (yeah, ok, I suck at life.) Then the older son held up the books he was carrying and tells me that today is his birthday. “Wow, that’s great. Happy Birthday … !” I said. I could not recall what his name was. I felt horrible.

Memory is a funny thing. I think that I have a good memory. I remember to buy milk before I run out. I remember to pay people back if I owe them money. I remember stories my friends tell me.

-BUT-

I read a lot of books. And there are many books that I like enough to recommend to friends to read. But then when they ask me what the books are about, I have the hardest time explaining them because I just cannot remember books very well. “Oh, it’s about a boy… in that one country in Europe, you know?” It’s like the book-remembering part of my brain just shuts off three months after finishing my most recent novel or memoir. And it’s not because I do not like them enough to remember details of them. I hate to admit this, but it’s the same even with Harry Potter. I remember the general story lines, but fine details, not so much. So, when I reread a book for the second, third, or seventh time, it isn’t exactly like reading a new book, but it is pretty darn similar.

And then sometimes I remember bits and pieces while (unknowingly) digging real deep into that memory-losing part of my brain (where information on past books I have read are apparently stored.)

“I can’t believe I forgot his na— FLYNN! The older one is Flynn!” I said to my mom later in the day as I was telling her how I ran into a preschool family.

Happy Birthday, Flynn! I hope unlike me, you are able to remember the story lines to those books you checked out today.

Welcome to paradise

Immediately after the plane landed, the 8-year-old turned to her mother and couldn’t stop smiling. Her grin stretched from ear to ear and her eyes were open just as wide. It wasn’t her first visit to the island, but this will be the first one she will recall. The two prior visits she was too young to remember.

As adult passengers impatiently waited for the cabin to unload, she still was smiling.

There’s something about this place that can do that to a person. Welcome to Hawaii, little girl. It was fun sharing an arm rest with you for five-and-a-half hours.