A little perspective

It has been a stressful week, and as I went down to the hospital cafeteria for lunch today, I was feeling sorry and frustrated with how things in my life have been going lately. How there’s too much stuff to do in too little time. You know the feeling.

Then I walked past a woman pushing one of those wheeled stands full of electronic monitoring devices, bags of IV fluids, tubes with dripping liquids, etc. She was looking down at the base of the stand and there was a tiny little girl in pajamas, no more than 3 years old, wrapped around the pole at the base of the stand, sitting on a colorful pillow and looking up at her mom. I didn’t need to follow the tubes and wires from the monitors to realize she was the one connected to them, because she was completely, unnaturally bald.

And she wanted pancakes.

God, it’s so easy to get trapped in the echo chamber of our own lives, isn’t it? Sometimes it feels like we’re the only ones suffering, when in reality there are people in this world putting up with challenges that are literally unimaginable. How about a little bit of perspective?

Little girl, I don’t know you, but I hope and pray that you and your family find the strength to get through this, and that you live a long and happy life.

And even though it was lunchtime, I hope that you got all the pancakes your little tummy could hold. With whipped cream and strawberries!


On the road again

I bought a new pair of running shoes today. There’s a specialty
running shop here in Charlottesville, Ragged Mountain, staffed by a
crew of young, fit people with disgustingly good abs. The guy in his
early 30’s that helped me find something for my freakishly misshapen
feet, kept ‘analyzing my stride’ and talking about ‘pronation’ and
‘support’ and ‘motion control’. It’s weird; I’ve heard all of those
words before, but in the running world, they all mean something really
different than they do in the rest of reality.

I tried on about 20 different pairs, and the guy kept trying to
tell me how each shoe would solve this problem or that; problems I
never even knew I had. I couldn’t even kept track of which shoe fixed
what problem. Or what the problems were. My only major concern, personally,
was that a big guy like me would get enough cushioning underfoot.[1]
Like, say, floor pillows. Or queen-size mattresses, maybe.

Clearly this guy was used to selling shoes to people who run
marathons every other weekend, who have very complex footwear needs.
My needs are much, much simpler. I need a pair of shoes I can walk in
for a few weeks, then jog in for a month or two, then set in my closet
for six months until the whole cycle starts all over. I didn’t have
the heart to tell him this. He seemed like he was having fun.

[1] Are you one of those fit, trim running-type people? Let’s
try a little thought experiment. Imagine yourself running. You’re
running along, making good time. Now imagine a clone of yourself,
sitting on your shoulders. Not running so fast now, are you? Now you
know why we big folks keeping talking about cushioning, okay?

This is a travesty!

I’m listening to Norah Jones:

Like a flower waiting to bloom
Like a lightbulb in a dark room
I’m just sitting here waiting for you
To come home and turn me on

For the love of all that’s good in this world,
won’t somebody please turn her on?

(I’m willing to volunteer…)

Ave. Hic adsum ad tesseras pontificis maximi Colosseo Maximo tollendas.

As I lay in bed listening to the radio this morning, unsuccessfully willing myself to get up, the host of Morning Edition said they were about to play a traditional Christmas carol in Latin, performed by a choir in New York City. I, of course, expected “Ave Maria”, or perhaps a version of the Magnificat, only to realize after a second that the choir was singing, in six-part harmony, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.

In Latin.

When I got an email account for the first time in college, back in the mid-nineties, one of the first mail forwards I got was entitled “Useful everyday Latin phrases”, which included, amongst others, the translation of the very useful phrase, “Hi. I’m here to pick up the Pope’s Superbowl tickets.” I thought I was going to have an aneurysm right there in the computer lab, I was laughing so hard.