Sunday, September 11, 2011

We're somewhat better off...I think...

Today is the 10th anniversary of the attack on the United States. On September 11, 2001 two hijacked airplanes flew into the Twin Towers in New York, one hijacked plane flew into the Pentagon and one plane that was almost hijacked but diverted by brave brave people on the plane crashed into a field in Shanksville, PA. We were under attack and it was really really scary.

Aha and I had just woken up for the day and while he was brushing his teeth and I was rubbing sleep from my eyes, I turned on the NBC news (as I always did). What I saw was that it appeared that the World Trade Center was on fire.

"Honey, come here, the World Trade Center is on fire." I said.
"What??", he said?

As he walked in and we stood together in front of our television, we watched the 2nd plane fly right into the second tower.

I wasn't sure what I was seeing. My first thought was "wow...what an accident...". Inside of about 5 minutes, I knew it wasn't an accident.

We were under attack and it was very very scary. My life, along with everyone else's life, changed forever that day. Ten years later, the question seems to be, for the better or not? back up a bit, the 9/11 attacks (as they came to be known) were not the first "where where you when...." event that happened in my lifetime. Fortunately, in my 43 years, there haven't been many but they include in no particular order:

* The Challenger explosion 1986 - in high school english class
* Regan being shot - in elementary school
* The first African American being elected president - on my couch with Aha
* The first woman being nominated for vice president - with my parents
* The Northridge earthquake - lying in my bed feeling it
* The death of:
-- Michael Jackson
-- Jerry Garcia
-- Freddie Mercury
-- John John Kennedy

But 9/11 is the one event in my lifetime that has had permanent repercussions.

All of the sudden, no one felt safe any longer. We were here in California wondering if the terrorists were coming here next. Would it be like the movies? Would there be a takeover and we'd all be killed?

That first 24 hours were errie. All we did was watch television. Those two planes flying into the World Trade Center towers over and over and over and over again. It got to the point where I just couldn't watch it any longer.

It took a long time and eventually, life became what is known now in our house as "the new normal". Travel changed, mailing things changed, our level of safety confidence changed. We could never ever go back.

But now, ten years later, there is a tremendous debate about whether we're better off or not. Well, let's see; thanks to some tool who put a bomb in his shoe, we have to take off our shoes when we go through security at the airport. Thanks to a different tool, we can't take more than the amount of 3 oz bottles that fit in a medium size Zip Lock bag. That didn't piss me off because I am a bag checker...I don't carry my suitcase on if I can avoid it. That's why God invented the belly of the plane, right? What irritated me was that I couldn't bring my coffee, a bottle of water or any drinkable liquid into the airport and through security. But whatever, I'll survive.

You'll notice that I'm not kvetching about the fact that they want to x-ray my carry on bag, that my computer has to have its own little bin to go through the x-ray or that they want to practically have me strip down to my bra and panties so they can see if I'm trying to smuggle something illegal on board (which I never am). I don't even care so much about the new x-ray that everyone thinks is too invasive. If some TSA person gets their rocks off checking out my boobs or nether region, then yeah for them; frankly I'm excited that I excite anyone these days.

What would I care about? Being groped, that wouldn't work, but since I haven't been, mostly because I consent to the x-ray, I'll leave it at - YOU MAY NOT TOUCH MY UNDER THE NEATH PARTS. YOU GET TO CHECK ME OUT VIA X-RAY AND THAT'S IT.

You will notice that I will also not use this space to mention that in nine years of flying Aha has never been asked to show his prescription for his Copaxone (all filled syringes) and when we were going through IVF, I was not asked to show a letter or a prescription for over 20 empty and over 10 filled syringes as well as multiple filled little bottles. Nope, no one wanted to talk about them. Oh well.

Here's the thing - we are better off and here's why.

It hasn't happened again.

People are more vigilant. It was regular people who noticed that a car was parked in Times Square and something wasn't quite right. It was regular people who have helped airline staff subdue all kinds of wacky people that try to get to the cockpit and/or to the flight team.

People aren't getting their machetes on to the planes (really, who needs that on a plane?) and people are more cognizant of who is on their planes and their behavior.

Now, there are plenty of ways we're not better off - the top five spots on that list belong to racial profiling. That makes me so incensed! How dare someone treat a person badly because they are wearing a headscarf!! How dare someone treat another human being badly because of their religion. I could go on for pages and pages, but I think you get the drift.

People will tell you that we're being spied on and that our privacy is being breeched. I am not here to try to change your mind if that's you. That's not the purpose of my blog. You are entitled to your own opinion.

However, here's my thoughts on it. Here's my thoughts on the TSA's ability to seem to go way way way overboard sometimes. Here's my insight into why we slap rules on ourselves when bad things happen.

Change happens very very very slowly. We are only ten years out from that horrible day. We're still working out the kinks of how to protect ourselves from the bad people in the world (in this case, "bad people" = anyone who wants to bring harm to the USA). We're still in a pretty reactionary time. Think about ten years in the context of the fact that we're a pretty young country. Also, think of ten years in the context of politicians are the ones making the decisions. I will save my thoughts on our government for another post. But, they really irk me.

So, we might be a little too over to one side when it comes to protecting ourselves. And we're not so fabulous about laying out perimeters. Finally, we don't seem to be so great at managing the process and checks and balances. We'll get there. The pendulum will swing. Think about how far the other way the pendulum was before 9/11. Before 9/11 you could get to the airport 30 minutes before your flight and be fine (unless you were in my family, we always got there hours before). Now, post 9/11, you need to allow over an hour to get through the aforementioned security screening process. We'll get there. It takes time and it takes mistakes to figure out what we need to do to adjust.

I think we need to spend less time being irked about processes that are keeping us safe and more time figuring out why we treat each other so badly. Why racism still exists in this country. Why people care about who we marry. Why the children in our country aren't getting educated as they should. Why we all can't seem to communicate very well and instead we shoot each other. Spend the time on that and not on why the TSA wants to see your bra. I mean really.

A few thanks are in order on, this the 10th anniversary of 9/11:
Thank you to all of the people who ran INTO the buildings to try to save as many people as they could. Thank you to the men and women of all the Police Departments and Fire Departments who worked tirelessly to save people and clean up the disastrous mess. Finally, thank you to the families who lost their loves ones as responders, first or otherwise. You performed the greatest sacrifice. You supported a person who gave their life in order to help others. They gave the greatest thing they could, their life and while I'm not sure about heaven and hell, I do feel that they have been put in a place where they can be happy. Please know that your family member is still a brave soul.

We'll get there. Be patient. But look at it this way, it's not happened again and that's a good sign.

America - we rock,

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Run! Run! Run Dena Run!

Really, after running 13.1 miles, this is a fabulous sign to see on the bathroom mirror. Aha couldn't make it to Anaheim yesterday with me because, let's face it, MS Sucks. Yep, yesterday, MS won the battle of Jay vs It. For two years, he's been with me at the Disneyland Half Marathon. We go down the day before and spend the afternoon together going to the Health and Fitness Expo where we pick up my race number and swag. We have dinner with friends who moved from San Antonio a few years ago (the 'she' of the couple is one of the sole reasons I survived my business trips to San Antonio - which lasted almost a year!); and he sends me off at 4:30 AM the morning of the run.

I'll see him somewhere along the route (last year at Angel Stadium) and he is always waiting at the finish line for me. I've run 7 half marathons (including this one) and he's been at the end of 5 of them. The two he missed, were due to MS. Which leads me to restate that MS Sucks. So when I saw this sign waiting for me in our bathroom; it was all worth it.

More than one person has asked me why I run.

It's an interesting question. My friend who used to live in San Antonio is a brand new runner and she was telling me how boring it was to run on the treadmill.

She is right. Any runner who has had to run more than 3 miles on a treadmill will tell you that it doesn't matter if you're listening to the best book you've ever read, watching the best television show or movie or even talking with your best friend; the treadmill is an instrument of torture. I told her that she needs to reserve the treadmill for bad weather days and run outside. Hopefully she'll take my advice because she's supposed to run the D-land Half next year. and I want to run it with her.

But why do I run?

To begin with - I'll call it what it is. When I lost a lot of weight 3 years ago (46 pounds) I did it by changing my relationship with food (info for another post) but also with running. Running allows me to eat more of the things one shouldn't eat if I didn't exercise. I don't plan to EVER put that weight back on and running will help make sure that never happens.

Secondly, sanity. There is something about those endorphins that help me stay off the roofs of buildings. It won't remove all the blues, but a great many of them.

Thirdly, my mind is really clear when I run. I do some of my best thinking when I run. I wrote the toast my brother and I gave at our parent's 45th anniversary party while running; I wrote the thank you remarks I gave at my 40th b'day party while running and I have worked through many a training class while running.

Fourth, let's face it; if you were to write an essay about my athletic ability you'd be done inside of 50 words. I have ZERO athletic skill and I'm not real comfy with that. Team sports tend to be a disaster for me in that, I'm the one who tends to not be able to: make the basket, hit the ball, make a good serve, swing a club or most importantly, win the game. Thus, running, an individual sport, seems to be the best way for me to go. Don't get me wrong, I have to be careful not to fall each and every time I go out, but at least, I'm the only one who must deal with that event; not a team. Oddly enough, I do participate in one team running sport; the Ragnar Relay and my team seems to love me and love my skill. So as long as they'll have me, I'll run with them.

Finally, truth be told, I like it. It used to be that you couldn't get me to run; anywhere, from anything, nothing. At all. Ever. Both my parents were runners (3 marathons between them) and they used to try to drag me and my brother out to run. We fought it tooth and nail. Now, wait for it, we are both runners. But I do seem to like it. A good running day generally guarantees a good rest of the day. A bad running day, well you can do the math. What do I love best? When it's over. The feeling of, "well, that's done" is fantastic. And that feeling is quadrupled after a half or full marathon. When I was walking back to my el crappo hotel after the race and I was talking with my Mom, she said, "good, that's behind you" and she is right. That almost feels better than finishing. Almost.

Finishing...let's talk about the goal of these races for a moment. Finishing is the numbers 1, 2, and 3 goals for me when I run these races. What my time is for the race comes in 7th or 8th after finishing, finishing, finishing, not bleeding, not injured and upright. Only then do I care about my time (which incidentally was 2:27:38 for today's race). And then, I don't really care that much.

The D-land HM is terrific. Only in a Disney race will you see multiple Princesses (or these women's versions of the Princesses based on still needing to wear running clothes), at least 3 Tinkerbells and a Goofy. Lots of people running in Mouse Ears and various Disney headwear. Yeah for them. I don't run in costume - EVER. Not for me. I'm a purest, running skirt (have dumped my running shorts in favor of them; check them out here), tank top, running bra, socks, shoes and hat. Not injuring myself is paramount and wearing the right clothes is the first step in that direction.

So, I'll keep on running. I'll keep on not dressing up and I'll keep on doing these races until I can't anymore.

Don't forget to stretch,