Thursday, May 16, 2013

Five Things That Have Happened

1. The event I've been working on since November, TEDxGrandRapids, took place last Thursday. I'm feeling incredibly lucky to have been part of such a dedicated and creative team and incredibly proud of the writing I did to give our event a voice. (Virtually all the website copy, blog posts, and audience newsletters - and many of the news releases - were written by me, and it's simultaneously a huge relief to be mostly done with the project and a strange sense of emptiness to not be thinking about it every day.) A few thoughts, post-event:

  • As the event got close, another team member and I took over the Twitter feed. My job the day of the event was largely to post, re-tweet, monitor, reply, and keep track of an exploding hashtag - and I've really only been on Twitter in a minimal capacity for less than a year. All credit goes to the super-smart college student on my team who very nicely sat down with me, helped me set up TweetDeck, and taught me about RT, MT, hashtags, and all manner of Twitter usage. At one point I actually said, "I'm sorry! I'm thirty-five! I learned to type on a word processor!" but he was patient, and I was reminded that I'm not nearly old enough to stop learning new tricks.
  • Our speakers were very, very smart people whose talks were challenging, interesting, and inspiring. This is exactly as we had hoped and planned, so - good! And yet, I don't think I'm the only one who found the cumulative effect of all those PhDs doing amazing research/people overcoming obstacles and dreaming big/innovative designers with bold ideas for the future to be the nagging thought, What am I even doing with my life? (And: I remember having that feeling before, after reading Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, and I remember that it eventually went away, so I'm not too alarmed. I think I'll re-watch the talks when they come online, maybe one at a time so as not to be overwhelmed.)
  • The night before, at the speaker-sponsor reception, I got to chat one-on-one for about half an hour with one of our speakers, a genomics medicine expert whose talk centered around the efficacy of genetic testing and what individuals might want to do with that information. I got to quiz him about my family history of Alzheimer's, ask about my insurance company suspicions, and get advice about whether and how to be tested. That interaction alone was priceless and gave me a ton to think about regarding my health care.
  • Over the course of the day, I also saw a high-school classmate that I haven't had contact with since graduation, drank one perfect MadCap cappuccino, discussed vasectomies with the wife of a favorite local business owner I'd just met, used my latent calligraphy skills to prettify the name badges of late-registering attendees, and cried my eyes out at a TED video that was interspersed between the talks. It was a day unlike any other, that's for sure.
2. On Friday, I helped take the event down in the morning (this involved glamorous things like pulling up yards of sidewalk tape in the drizzling rain and washing out multiple water containers), then picked up my Riverbank Run 25K packet in the afternoon. Because WHY NOT RUN 15 MILES TWO DAYS AFTER A 16-HOUR EVENT? Our school principal, for whom a team of us was raising money with the run, generously hosted a pasta dinner for the runners and their families on Friday evening. It was nice to spend a little time with the other runners and their families, and in retrospect, it was nice to have that extra reminder that each of us, sponsored by others, was running for a dear cause. Because, while the first 12 miles of the run on Saturday went beautifully (Sarah and I talking and laughing and downing Gatorade as we always do), the last 3.5 miles did not feel good. At all. And I may or may not have been doing an embarrassing amount of self-talk and sing-song chants to the beat of my feet on the ground about being strong, running for a cause, and making our team proud. In the end, we finished - and within about 20 seconds of the time we've gotten every other time we've done this distance, too. Apparently if you wind me up, I do a nine-minute mile until I can't do any more. I came home, got in the hot tub, and spent much of the rest of the day in bed, thank goodness.

3. Sunday was Mother's Day. After the girls awakened me early (7:01) to bring me breakfast in bed (yogurt and granola, mango, coffee) and my favorite flowers (lilacs), I had a few moments to reflect on how my Mother's Days have changed so drastically over the years. I so clearly remember those first, blurry ones - crying babies, tantruming toddlers, so much sweating involved either packing us all up to go somewhere or hosting family at our house. I remember ending the day with a defeated sense that, to truly enjoy a day of thanks and relaxation, I'd have to do it WITHOUT my children, and that didn't feel right at all, Plus, my role then was so totally as A MOM that not getting that acknowledgement bothered me more than it probably should have. These days, I truly love (most of) the time I spend with the girls. They're not sleeping sweetly on my shoulder or using adorable three-year-old voices to babble brightly, and I do miss that, but they're legitimately fun to be with. Highlights of the day this year included the way the girls had hung little signs and pictures all around the house for me to find, our family brunch at Trillium Haven (where Annie took down a plate of bacon faster than I've ever seen), seeing both grandmas for a bit in the afternoon, and, of course, the cards the girls made me at school. Jemma's, I want the record to show, proclaimed that I "smell like honey," which is not exactly the message I get from her after I've returned from a run. Next time she backs away from my post-workout kiss, I'm going to yell, "I thought I smelled like honey!" and see what she says. Annie's entire list of "10 Things About My Mom" thrilled me - not just because it's a project I used to do with my second-graders after we'd read Because of Winn-Dixie, too, but mostly because of list item #5, which said, "Whining does not work with her." I'm not sure I'm going to stop celebrating that little tidbit, since it proves that if you say something almost every day for nearly nine years, your child will eventually internalize it. (I'm also not able to stop hearing that phrase in what I call the Wesley Willis voice. Jason agrees.) Anyway, it was a super-special day, and I felt loved and lucky, and I wish I could tell my past self that Mother's Day will eventually a) mean a little less to me in a good way, since I'll have other sources of affirmation in my life and b) get better, as far as the having fun WITH the kids thing goes.

4. On Monday, the sleeplessness and excitement of last week caught up to me. I got my hair cut, watched DVR'd Mad Men, and took a nap. I was like a college student after finals: only interested in sleeping, and wishing my mom would do my laundry.

5. Yesterday, I made Smitten Kitchen's salted brown butter rice krispie treats, then promptly ate almost half the pan. I mean, that's not the ONLY thing I did yesterday, it's just all I'm telling you about.

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