Tuesday, March 30, 2010

easter and rebirth

Technically I guess the new decade starts in 2011 but the year of 2010 represents some milestones in my life. First, I had a big birthday in February and Mark threw me an incredible party, which will require another post to explain, I'm working on it. Secondly, I became a full-fledged vegetarian. Ok, that's not actually true, more like a Pescetarian. I was eating very little meat before but now I eat none and have had to relearn how I plan, shop for, and cook a meal, which has been quite an adventure. And finally, I am hoping that 2010 represents the end of a very difficult 2-year period of health issues and emotional trauma, for want of a better label. Good Riddance to 2009 (I know, it's almost April) and Good Riddance to the winter of 2009-2010 which has finally released its grip on us. This was the rainest season on record in Philadelphia since record-keeping began in 1873. As of yesterday, 62.17 inches of precipitation had fallen in the previous 365 days — more than five feet. Just wait until the mosquito larvae start hatching.

This has not been an easy week, and today is only Wednesday. Not only was it raining from Sunday afternoon through today, but on Monday night Colin had just picked me up to drive to Cadence Climbing Class and I looked at my phone and saw that both sisters, Mark, and Chris (aka Boss #1) had all called me, twice, within 5 minutes. Something bad had happened. I called Chris and I was quietly told that "unfortunately your mother had a stroke." I gasped. Ten seconds later Colin swung around and dropped me back off and twenty minutes later Mark picked me up in the 911 and we drove, fast, through the downpour to Bryn Mawr Hospital, where I was born. It turns out she did NOT have a stroke, possibly a TIA but she is OK, after they ran her though every kind of test for 2 days, but it was how my week started.

Tuesday I had this uneasy feeling and got no sleep leading into today. This morning I was in a vile mood and had a stress stomach-ache all morning, which was at its worst during my non-optional appearance at Philadelphia Traffic Court at 1 pm. I was there to plead that my "running a red light" offense could be reduced to a non-pointable offense instead. Which I did, and the Judge acquiesced. It was a win-win all around, as I got no points against my driving record (which is in the shitter anyway right now after 2 accidents in 2 months) and the Philadelphia Traffic Court got to keep my $126.50.

But anyway, here we are Wednesday afternoon and the sky is blue and my stomach feels better. My mom is OK. Work is tolerable (very quiet today, no one is here) and my malaise of the past 24 hours has lifted with the dark clouds. Tomorrow is April Fools day, so maybe I will sneak into work at the butt-crack of dawn and put a mannequin in my chair, since "as long you are here early we don't actually care if you lock the door of your office and do your nails all day," no kidding, this from Boss #1. I mean with that option why waste a PTO day?

Actually, tomorrow I am allowed back on the Yeti after 14 weeks and it is going to be 75 degrees and sunny. I took the day off from work. I actually put a few races on my calendar, which is very scary to me because I don't even remember HOW to race, and I have never raced with a pacemaker before. There are not many of us under 70 with pacemakers you see, and most XC racers tend to hang it up a bit before then.

This year is going to be very different. I can feel it. That's all I can say with certainty at this point. And there really is nowhere to go but up.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


primum non nocere

our meeting: an anomaly as
spring collided with summer
we touched; the universe shifted, trembled
the iatrogenic artifact of my incised flesh:
this fissure which cracked my resolve
and weakened me towards you

our molecules colliding in leaden air
the perfume of opium opening me,
a flower, I gazed up from your arms.
tears watered the newly planted device
that clumsily repairs the damage of our tortured year.
a little shock and my atrium and ventricle
beat faster, faster

time yawned back towards the present,
you retreat to your newly arranged life
new cast, state-of-the-art soundtrack
your soundboard adjusted toward a perfect pitch
you are free of the darkness, finally.
we press foreheads and you are gone

the opium vaporized, the pain aggrandized
I woke to the death cry of some unknown beast
then silence

tonight I am on top of old city, lights
like glass beads strewn from pandoras box
wind. heat. echoes. chimes.
your ghost swirls around me, won’t let me forget
your shifting of principles
your casting of history
your bright energy burning beyond your physical vessel
scarring me again, still I cling to it

the good doctor amputated the limb
the cut was clean, efficient
but I was not sufficiently sedated;
the case was incomplete.
for the pain remains from my phantom reach
I need the limb back, not the idea of a limb
to release my grip
to let you go


Thursday, March 25, 2010

time trialing with a broken heart

so I had a field test today, indoors. I guess I have one every month now, and I was looking forward to besting my numbers from the last one, since my LT had fallen dramatically from The Year of Five Surgeries, getting hit by a truck, etc. Nevermind that the tragic events of my personal life of the past several weeks culminated on Tuesday night, and unfortunately I am one of those people whose emotional turmoil will manifest itself on my physical being in all sorts of tangible as well as less obvious ways.

So I performed half of the 20 min field test hitting my numbers okay, with the intention of ramping it up for the last part, and all of a sudden my legs just felt awful and it was all I could do to complete the test, forget completing it at SuperLT-VO2 Max. I had tried to overcome my deep sense of personal loss from the events of the past couple of days by doing everything right: taking it easy yesterday, getting enough sleep, making a little time-trial playlist on my ipod, focusing on the task ahead of me during the warm-up, and even after the TT started, listening to the rhythm of my heart and lungs and legs; being present, feeling the pain as they pumped, and concentrating on those little numbers on my PowerTap.

However, sometimes despite trying to do everything right, I consoled myself on the ride home, it just goes like that. It has happened to all of us at one time or another I guess.

As for my broken heart:

When I was diagnosed with heart block I asked them how this could have happened to me. I had not suffered from any of the known causes, such as a prior heart attack, a congenital defect, an enlarged heart, rheumatic fever, coronary artery disease, or an overdose of various prescription drugs. They said it could have been a virus that caused some scarring on the heart that was undetectable in the ultrasound. I did have a nasty case of mono in the 9th grade that caused me to miss about 6 weeks of school.

But I know, because I inhabit this body as well, that my heart block was caused by none other severe emotional stress. I chose to fall in love with X back in late 2007, who seemed beautiful on the outside, charming and witty with eyes of fire, but whose own soul was broken as only a soul is broken when it inhabits a young body with a fledgling psyche trying to comprehend why its father abandoned it. He became a weapon. A piece of my soul was damaged from similar circumstances and so it could be said that it was my destiny to fall in love with X.
Or not.
After months of trying to understand the self-destruction and violence that his broken soul could unleash upon himself, the people who loved him, and the rest of the world, something inside me snapped, and I had my first incident on a nice sunny day on the bike path.

And as the mystery deepened and the months of 2008 progressed, with any kind of rift between X and I, the conduction in my heart would become markedly compromised, and I would block at much lower heart rates, until I could not even complete an endurance ride without incident. This deterioration continued until, after much research, endless trips to cardiologists, and my decision to end that very torturous relationship, I opted to have the little metal box implanted and the wires threaded through my vessels so I could keep riding my bike. And my broken heart... became a bionic heart. And even though part machine, I discovered this week; it can still break.
More info here about emotional and physical stress triggering heart symptoms, albeit very different ones than mine.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

it may not always be so

it may not always be so; and i say
that if your lips, which i have loved, should touch
another's, and your dear strong fingers clutch
his heart, as mine in time not far away;
if on another's face your sweet hair lay
in such a silence as i know, or such
great writhing words as, uttering overmuch,
stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;

if this should be, i say if this should be-
you of my heart, send me a little word;
that i may go unto him, and take his hands,
saying, Accept all happiness from me.
Then shall i turn my face, and hear one bird
sing terribly afar in the lost lands.

e.e. cummings

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

one month ago, the view from my front porch

yes it was a long cold winter, but spring has finally arrived in Philadelphia. And in case you forgot, or in fact, were traveling to.... say, Budapest or SoCal and missed it, those lumps in the middle of the picture are cars.

Monday, March 22, 2010

is the path always greener on the other side?

so if I was feeling a "little" uneasy about getting myself a new nano instead of trying to salvage the old one, I felt even worse when I clicked on the FedEx tracking number link in my shipment confirmation from Apple. It had been shipped about an hour after I bought it, so I truly expected to see it on my desk this rainy dreary Monday morning. I would gleefully peel open the cardboard box and unwrap my new toy with "happy birthday andrea" succinctly engraved on the gleaming orange case.

So I clicked, perusing the page to find out where it was shipped from, and where it had stopped on its way to Philadelphia. You know, something like this: Origin Scan: Omaha>Chicago>Philadelphia>out for delivery or something like that.

Instead, to my surprise and dismay I saw that actually my ipod appears to have been drop-shipped directly from China. You heard it right.

It appears that as of today, it is in Anchorage Alaska (!) awaiting international shipping release from its journey off a ship from Shenzhen, China and then on to Hong Kong.

Wouldn't my carbon footprint be much less muddy if I had gotten into my 14-year old SUV and driven to Best Buy to get this gadget? Yes it might not have been orange, or monogrammed. Those complete unnecessary attributes are exactly the enticements that Apple dangled to get me to buy directly from them. I was not even thinking of carbon at the time, as I assumed that I was continuing my frequent practice of buying almost all of my consumables online in bulk. This way I let UPS or Fedex deliver the goods in as efficient a method as possible, by grouping my deliveries in with the deliveries of everyone on my block, in my 'hood, and in my city. And by doing so I almost never have to move my car on the weekends at all. Less guilt that I drive that old cherokee that has one tire in the junkyard at this point.

But no, the shiny apple had been proffered and I took a delicious bite, unwittingly, and almost as innocently as Eve herself. And in hitting "send" on the bottom of my shopping cart I set into motion a series of electrical impulses that were heard across the globe, as a Fulfillment Center in Shenzen received the request and my little scrap of orange metal, the size of half of a chocolate bar and thin as a mint girl-scout cookie, was stamped with my name and number and sent on its way to Hong Kong and then onto Anchorage. It would zigzag it's way across the continents and finally arrive at the loading dock of Liberty Flooring in Lester, PA and into my hot little hands.

While this seems like a brilliant study in logistics and marketing, it also seems like an abysmal waste of energy, that one woman's mouse click in Philadelphia can burn so much fossil fuel to get herself one little Nano. I am hoping that my FedEx tracking notification was sort of, I dunno, not to be taken literally, as in, "yes we made it look like you were special but actually this is the tracking info for every piece of chinese-made crap that was on that container ship and a good half a ton of it was accompanying your ipod to Philadelphia on the same tankload of fuel--get over yourself."

Anyway, to sum it all up: I am doing some research now to figure out what the greenest way is to purchase items like this and when I work it all out I will post something. Feel free to chime in if you have any ideas or links. And after looking back at my life, which I have done quite a bit lately, I realize that guilt has really never has helped me at all. All I can do is get up every day and try and live better. And greener.

OOCL Shenzhen: World's Largest Container Ship
A little old and a little off-topic, perhaps, but almost every bit of electronics hardware we use every day comes into our country via container ship. This beauty is the Orient Overseas Container Line Shenzhen, out of Hong Kong. It is big.
Thanks to large-scale automation, Shenzhen has a crew complement of only 19, and virtually the entire ship can be controlled and adjusted from a single Windows-based computer terminal. Several such terminals are scattered throughout the ship, meaning that the ship s officers can make adjustments to the ship from their cabins if necessary.
Largest Container Ship [GuinnessWorldRecords]


Flanked by his vice-president Joe Biden, Barack Obama speaks from the East Room of the White House following Congress's approval of his healthcare reform billPhotograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Barack Obama to Andrea
show details 12:16 AM (13 hours ago)
Subject: Thank you Andrea

Andrea --

For the first time in our nation's history, Congress has passed comprehensive health care reform. America waited a hundred years and fought for decades to reach this moment. Tonight, thanks to you, we are finally here.

Consider the staggering scope of what you have just accomplished:
Because of you, every American will finally be guaranteed high quality, affordable health care coverage.

Every American will be covered under the toughest patient protections in history. Arbitrary premium hikes, insurance cancellations, and discrimination against pre-existing conditions will now be gone forever.
And we'll finally start reducing the cost of care -- creating millions of jobs, preventing families and businesses from plunging into bankruptcy, and removing over a trillion dollars of debt from the backs of our children.
But the victory that matters most tonight goes beyond the laws and far past the numbers.

It is the peace of mind enjoyed by every American, no longer one injury or illness away from catastrophe.

It is the workers and entrepreneurs who are now freed to pursue their slice of the American dream without fear of losing coverage or facing a crippling bill.

And it is the immeasurable joy of families in every part of this great nation, living happier, healthier lives together because they can finally receive the vital care they need.

This is what change looks like.

My gratitude tonight is profound. I am thankful for those in past generations whose heroic efforts brought this great goal within reach for our times. I am thankful for the members of Congress whose months of effort and brave votes made it possible to take this final step. But most of all, I am thankful for you.

This day is not the end of this journey. Much hard work remains, and we have a solemn responsibility to do it right. But we can face that work together with the confidence of those who have moved mountains.
Our journey began three years ago, driven by a shared belief that fundamental change is indeed still possible. We have worked hard together every day since to deliver on that belief.

We have shared moments of tremendous hope, and we've faced setbacks and doubt. We have all been forced to ask if our politics had simply become too polarized and too short-sighted to meet the pressing challenges of our time. This struggle became a test of whether the American people could still rally together when the cause was right -- and actually create the change we believe in.

Tonight, thanks to your mighty efforts, the answer is indisputable: Yes we can.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee holds an autographed copy of the healthcare reform following its passage through CongressPhotograph: Mike Theiler/EPA

you too can get emails from the President, click here.
more info on the health care reform bill here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

why I dislike designer t-shirts

note broken clavicle top left

personally I think it looks better on my skeleton; this model has way too much meat on her bones

my birthday present to myself

I know I am trying to cut down on frivolities right now but my current nano only holds 2 hours of battery power and that is not going to cut it now that coach has me riding 8 hours a weekend, mostly by myself. Plus this little gadget has a radio, automatic Genius mixes, a video camera, and it holds 4000 songs (or 16 hours of vids) sooooo cool.

Monday, March 15, 2010

the light at the end of this particular tunnel

the chlo-dog

Just came back from a meeting with my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. David Glaser, and he said that I could mountain bike in another two weeks, roughly April 1st. So April fools day I will be out on my bike some hell or high water, although we've had enough of both of those things around here lately so maybe I should not count my chickens yet. It is fortunate that April 1st this year falls on "dog meat day, " when I take the day off from work to drive to Conshohocken and meet a rental truck in the parking lot of the old Circuit City. There a bunch of "dog people, "--breeders, owners of agility champions, and owners like me passionate about feeding their dogs a "biologically appropriate raw diet" -- will be there with cash queueing up in the parking lot looking to pick up tubes of frozen beef carcass to feed to their canines. It has not escaped my notice that 98% of these folks are obese. They control their dogs diets carefully but obviously do not apply that discipline to their own meals.

Anyway, I purchase roughly 100 lbs of meat and liver every 8 weeks to feed Gryphon, Madison and Chloe. After schlepping the frozen meat tubes home, up my front steps and then down my basement, I will be more than ready to take the Yeti out. Perhaps by then the trails might even be dry and rideable, but probably not. You know what they say about April showers.

Kelly Drive

enough already! we get it, no more drought.


The chief lesson I have learned in a long life is that the only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him; and the surest way to make him untrustworthy is to distrust him and show your distrust.

Henry L. Stimson (1867 - 1950)

It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.

Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)

Friday, March 12, 2010

so should I add them as a "friend" or not?

I don't got on FB much, but I do think it is a good tool to keep in touch with my friends and family. And as we all know it is also a potent method for everyone in our past life who we remember, and many of those who we don't remember or chose to forget, to interrupt our daily activities with an intrusive digital announcement of their existence. Along the lines of:

DelilahsDen AtlanticCity added you as a friend on Facebook...

Facebook to Andrea
show details: Mar 11 (2 days ago)

Hi Andrea,
DelilahsDen AtlanticCity added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to confirm
that you know DelilahsDen in order for you to be friends on Facebook.

DelilahsDen AtlanticCity

Thanks, The Facebook Team

To confirm DelilahsDen as a friend:
Add Friend

To confirm this
friend request, follow the link below:

This message was intended for
andrea@valentinebaby.com. Want to
control which emails you receive from Facebook? Go to:
http://www.facebook.com/editaccount.php?notifications=1&md=ZnJpZW5kO2Zyb209MTAwMDAwODIyMDE2Nzc1O3RvPTEwMDE2MDE3MDQ= Facebook's offices are located at 1601 S. California Ave., Palo Alto,
CA 94304.

In case you don't live in these parts and are scratching your head wondering what Delilah's Den is, click here. Still not sure who dimed me out though!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm going to beat this guy by at least 20 years

...that is if I can keep from being hit my any more trucks or minivans:

Who has lived the longest with a pacemaker? The late Swedish engineer, Arne Larsson has lived the longest (41 years) with a pacemaker implanted. His first pacemaker was experimental pacemaker, one that had never been tried in a human before. His operation was performed at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm on Oct. 8, 1958. Although the first pacemaker lasted just a few hours, a second lasted several weeks, sustaining Larsson long enough for the implantation of an improved model. Throughout his active life, he had 26 pacemakers.

This is from "Pulse" the newsletter of the Pacemaker club, which describes
itself this way:

The Pulse Newsletter provides club news and information of interest to our battery-operated members. It is published semi-annually. If you wish to submit an idea for a future publication, please contact us.

I object to being labeled as battery-operated when I am only operating on batteries about 8 percent of the time last time we interrogated the thing.

Here is another gem from Pulse:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

another fine day at the office

the crew looking particularly guilty

... so I was pretty pissed tuesday morning because late monday night boss #2 sent me a snitty email:

I just wanted to let you know that you were in the office for 5 1/2 hours today. You could be doing way more to help chris & I out.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Now keep in mind the reply I wanted to write was something along the lines of:

Dear Boss #2
Thank you for letting me know what my hours were
yesterday. It is uncanny how you knew that my watch was broken. I was going to work late tonight to finish some projects that got neglected on monday but I am concerned that you won't be around to log me out and therefore I may indeed get stuck at work all night. So I opted not to show up at all.

stick it up your butt.
sincerely, andrea

But alas, for the time being I have to work here until Boss #2 pisses me off to the point where I get off my ass and look for a job that offers a 401K, a modicum of flex time (albeit less than here) and some co-workers that graduated from high school. Throw in a raise every 2 years and I'm so outta here!

anyway.....I did the next best thing, unwittingly.

Tuesday I came in and worked my butt off for 9 hours, which of course I would have done anyway but only one of us is actually counting. Today I brought the dogs into work because I knew it would be a late night and it was supposed to deluge by now, and the dogs would not get a walk later. They love running around the warehouse anyway. Well not five minutes after I let the dogs in, I hear a voice bellowing, "Andrea! your dog just took a shit all over the upstairs!" this from, you guessed it, Boss #2, who sounded extra-specially annoyed now.

WTF? He did??? I walked upstairs and sure enough, Gryphon had taken a super-large doggy dump right outside #2's office. Not in a nice neat steaming pile mind you, but actually in that punctuated pattern that can only come from an animal who has perfected the "walking while defecating" technique. After exclaiming that it would not have happened if my dogs were not here (no way!) #2 sat back down at his desk and commenced his phone conversation and I cleaned up the crap. They were actually nice fluffy healthy poos, nothing too gross. Madison and Chloe were already hiding under my desk in fear, however, they knew this was bad, very bad, humans were yelling over it.

So anyway, not that I planned any of that, and sure enough it probably is not going to help my prospects here much, but, as Colin stated, I literally gave #2 some shit, without having to say (or write) a word. Thanks Gryph you old boy!!

When I sent Boss #1 an email letting him know what had happened while he spent all day in a deposition downtown, I got this response:

From: Boss #1
Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 4:50 PM
To: Andrea Walheim
Subject: Re: NJ carpenter's funds audit

Nice - I knew I always liked Gryph the best.

From: "Andrea Walheim"
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2010 15:25:06 -0500
To: Boss #1
Cc: Boss #2
Subject: RE: NJ carpenter's funds audit

I know you are bored and miserable and stressed right now; so I thought I would tell you that 5 minutes after getting inside the building, Gryphon took a shit on the floor outside #2's office. I swear I did not put him up to it. #2 was NOT very happy about it to say the least. Not that I find it
funny, but you know the timing could NOT have been worse.

Yes I cleaned it up, I didn’t think it would be good to leave it until you got back. : )

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

sometimes the old friends say it best

Fred Tecce sent you a message on Facebook...

Facebook to Andrea show details 5:11 PM (1 hour ago)

Fred sent you a message.

Subject: Essay

When you get a minute, could you please send me a short essay - - nothing big, maybe 25-50 words or less, about how it feels to be SO FUCKING important that you can't find time to return an old friend's phone messages. It will not be graded for syntax or grammar.
Thank you.

wow. Actually he did call me on my birthday which was, yeah, February 14th. Despite how much Facebook annoys me, it is good for stuff like this.....anyway, Fred and I go back a LONG time, since I was 24 and working at his law firm, and now...well now I'm a hellofalot older and Fred has been on national TV 140 times in the past 14 months and is hoping to make a career of it and quit law altogether.

We will be going to Parc next week to catch up. Always a good time with Fred, who was known to occasionally pass out business cards which read,

"Frederick Tecce, Esq wishes to apologize for his behavior on _________"