Crying “Uncle!”, or You Know What, I’m Just Done.

“Hey, how’s it going?”

Such an innocuous set of words aren’t they?  We ask them casually to friends, family, acquaintances alike.  We expect the same answer, or variations thereof: “It’s going okay.”

Guess what.  It’s not okay. I’m not okay.  I am ‘stick a fork in me’ done. This is My Own Little Soapbox after all, so you’re just gonna have to listen to me vent, kvetch, or as my Dutch grandparents or in-laws would have said, “brommen”  (grumble, growl, drone, mutter).  My grandfather’s usual context was to tell us to “Quit your brommen.

A month ago our youngest nearly died.  She was dying, actually, and her body was shutting down.  She spent five days in the hospital, most of that in ICU.  In medical terms she was mildly hypothermic, hypovolemic, in septic shock, and suffering severe DKA. In terms we all can understand she was cold, like under 90 degrees cold, severely dehydrated, and had a rare strep infection in her blood.  The DKA is a complication of diabetes wherein your body burns fat for energy instead of glucose, and the fat-turned-energy leaves an acid called ketones in your blood. Too many ketones and your body pH drops and you become acidotic.  Her pH was 6.8.   A nurse said they have a little saying about low body pH: Under 7, they’re going to heaven.

She had lots of fluids, IV antibiotics, lots of electrolytes, insulin, sodium bicarbonate — at one point there were EIGHT IV infusion pumps running at once and she was intubated to keep her body from quitting completely.

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That was April 5. She pulled through and came home.

Last week Sunday we went to the emergency room because she has a spot on her leg from an intraosseous needle inserted into her shin — yes, straight through the bone into the marrow — that wasn’t healing very well.  She had one in each leg, by the way.  I thought it may be a little infected.  I called an Urgent Care and they said if she needed IV antibiotics they would send us to  Emergency since they can’t administer those.  Okay, ER it was.

The PA-C and a doctor both looked at her leg.  Both determined it was ugly, slow to heal, but not infected.  Now can we address the severe belly pain she’s had for nearly 2 weeks?  A routine urinalysis showed she had a UTI and  bladder infection.  I am my daughter’s Patient Advocate.  She doesn’t like to make a big deal of things, even when it’s a big deal. She was downplaying the pain, and I knew it. She was in tears. I requested an ultrasound just to rule out any other problems.  (I was thinking appendix or ovarian cyst.)  My request was ignored.  We were sent home with 7 days’ of oral antibiotics for the UTI.

Wednesday evening comes and the belly pain had not let up, and was actually worse than before, she said.  It was after 9:30 pm, so back to Emergency we go.  I was thinking they’d give her a prescription for some stronger pain meds and we’d be on our way.

Did you know that Emergency departments of larger hospitals have different rooms for different levels of “emergency”?  When our girl was brought in a month ago, she was in a Level 1 Trauma Room.  They are huge to make room for all the staff that needs to be on hand to save a patient’s life. There are Observation rooms.  These are decent sized spaces, and away from the noise of the rest of the ER.  Patients who need to be watched for a few hours come here. For example: sudden onset of pain after surgery or chemo, or other procedure, a runner needing hydration after race.  They need help, but won’t be admitted.

Then there are the “you’re not bleeding, dying, broken, shot, stabbed, and otherwise look pretty good, and we wonder why you’re here” rooms. The “Let’s read all of War and Peace while we wait” rooms.  That’s where we were taken Wednesday night.  O, I failed to mention they are not private in any way, shape, or form.  This room was semi-private so we could listen to the other fella in the bed next to hers have conversations with his friend who brought him, the staff, and hear the multiple episodes of Law & Order he watched.  Yes, multiple — remember, the theme of these rooms is “hurry up and wait,  and… wait.”

Around 12:30 am it was decided that she should have a CT scan.  FINALLY! Also by this point they decided she was going to be admitted for DKA — and we didn’t even come in for that! What seemed like ages pass and they take her down.  No, they don’t know how long it will take to get results.  At 2:24 am Thursday morning she is finally brought up to the ICU — again.

Neither of us was prepared for an inpatient stay.  We’ve learned to pack a hospital bag in 10 minutes at home before coming to the ER just in case she gets admitted. We didn’t have blankets, comfy pants, phone chargers, my tablet and headphones, eye mask, or earplugs — nothing!

Around 4 am all the staff finally leaves the room so we can get some rest.  It takes that long to get IVs started, meds ordered and brought up, vitals taken (again), EKG monitor pads affixed, the same questions asked with the same answers given, the IV infusion pumps attached to pole, set and running.  And my girl is still in pain because they haven’t given her much to control it.

Daylight comes bringing a shift change, more questions and the results from the CT scan.  It shows she has a kidney infection with a possible abscess on it.  She will be staying for a couple more days, at least 2, until they can scan the kidney again to check on the “spot.”

This news induces a wave of tears, anxiety, stress and fear.  I’m too exhausted to feel all the rage I want to knowing we could have been 3 days ahead on healing if they had just listened to her mother on Sunday!

What brought me to tell all y’all about this?  Thanks for asking.  I was supposed to join my friends for a group run Saturday (yesterday) morning.  I fell asleep in the recliner in the hospital and didn’t make it.  It turned out that wasn’t so bad after all.  She got discharged and we left the building around noon. If I had been running I would not have been able to take her home.  Sidenote: I slept all 3 nights in the hospital with her, if you can call what I did “sleeping.”

My plan was to run today.  I’m training for a 25K that is next weekend, and a marathon the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. My plan was 22 miles. My goal was to be out of the house around 2 pm.  That came and went.  I ate, drank water, started getting my gear together.  I wandered around because I can’t focus.  My head just wasn’t in it today, certainly not my heart.  The straw that broke the camel’s back?  I couldn’t find my headphones, and I couldn’t remember where I had put them.  I couldn’t find my new bottle of electrolyte capsules either. I would need both to survive 22 miles on my feet.  It was now 4:45 pm and I called it.  “Uncle!” I said to my husband.  I just can’t today.  And now you know why I am ‘stick a fork in me’ done.

Tomorrow is another day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As for more tomorrows, our daughter is now a legal adult.  She has over $30,000 in existing medical debt.  These last two inpatient hospital stays have not been added to that total.  Please read her story, and consider a generous contribution to help save her future before it has a chance to really start.

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The Family Tree Grows

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I’ve been working on my family tree since Christmas.  Here is a little update on what I’ve found.  I have found it to be fascinating (like seeing an actual copy of a great-grandfather’s 1917 draft registration card with his own signature on it) and frustrating (like painstaking time spent translating Dutch to English with Google Translate).  I can now recognize the Dutch words for birth, died, married, none, municipality (of), female, male, year(s), month(s), father, mother, bride, groom.  I can read most of a Dutch birth, marriage or death record and get the gist of it.  Deciphering the handwriting though — well, that’s something else completely. Totally random, but remember the Burgermeister Meisterburger from the 1960’s stop-motion movie Santa Claus is Coming to Town? He was the cranky fat man who outlawed all the toys.  Okay, so a Burgermeister (pronounced: bur-ger-mice-ter)  is a real person.  I mean, it’s a real thing.  He was basically the village clerk keeping the official records. 

~ I got a hit on my DNA with a possible distant relative.  It seems we share a common ancestor 5 generations back on my tree, or what would be one set of my great-great-great grandparents; 3rd or 3x great-grands.  This “match” appears to be closer to my parents age.  I’m guessing based on the number of branches that follow after him (3: kids, grands, great-grands) compared to my own (2: kids, grands).  I understand the website’s need for privacy for family members still living on the trees built on the site, but it would be nice to have some names and birthdates for what seems to be a 4th Cousin. All I can see is PRIVATE in box after box after box.

~ 4 new babies have been born and added in the last month from one First Cousin and then two Second Cousins. Thanks to Facebook I saw the announcements. People don’t mail birth announcements anymore, do they? One thing hasn’t changed, and that’s the tragedy of newborns who don’t survive. Medicine and NICU have come so far and despite all the interventions some babies just aren’t strong enough to overcome.

~ 1 mystery was solved regarding a Nellie, who wasn’t illegitimate after all (WHEW!) just in the wrong place.  When a repeated first name shows up and you don’t know if the last name given was her maiden or married name it can get confusing. The 1800s are rife with repeated and reused names.  It was not unusual after a child died to name the next one born the exact same as their dead sibling. And unlike George Foreman who did name all of his boys George I, II, III, IV and V these people didn’t specify which one came first or second.  I spent some time digging through Dutch records to find out who she was. This Nellie was wrongly placed on the tree under her married name.  Once her maiden name was figured out I just had to make sure her parents were correctly listed. If you don’t remove the wrong ones your relative would hang on two separate branches and then things get really messed up.

~ Four (so far that I know) have served in the US Armed Forces during WWII, Korea, and peacetime between and after that. My great uncle (grandfather’s brother) served as a clerk in the Marine Corps from his enlistment in April, 1943 until April, 1946 achieving the rank of Technical Sergeant. I didn’t know he was in the military until I was in my 20’s and I saw his USMC tattoo on his arm. My mother’s brother served in the Navy after Korea in peacetime. He spent time in Japan.   I wonder if my very straightlaced uncle has a Navy tattoo hiding up his sleeve.

~ A 3x great-grandfather (Albertus, b.1818) was married 4 times and had 11 children. Four of whom died between birth and age 6.  Sadly each of his wives saw one of her children die.  I’m thinking he must have been wealthy or how could he be in his mid-40s (somewhat old in that era) and marry a young woman.  The eldest child was born in 1844; the youngest in 1878. I have not found out if any of the later wives had been widowed, or had children from previous marriages.  Finding them would be a curiosity, more than a necessity.

~ My 2nd great-grandfather (Karst, b. 1844), the eldest son of the one I just mentioned, was married twice and had 10 children.  Likewise he and his first wife suffered the loss of two young children; a third died at age 30.

~ A 1st cousin 2x removed [my grandpa’s 1st (half) cousin — I’m 2 generations away so that make it 2x removed — or also: 2nd great-grandfather Karst’s grandson through his second wife — you know in case you weren’t confused enough already] was an international champion billiards player (who I knew about, just didn’t know what branch he hung on). He served in the Army during the Korean Conflict.  I don’t know if he saw combat.  He died at age 37 of cancer.

~ And to make this 2nd great-grandfather’s legacy even more interesting we have this: With Wife 1 he had a daughter called Nellie (her given name was Lummigje); Wife 2 had a son called John with her first husband.  John and Nellie, he was about 17 and she 13, became step-siblings in 1892 when their parents married.  They got married to each other in 1897. He was then about 22 and she was just shy of 19.

The biggest scandals would prob’ly be the folks who left the Dutch Reformed Church for the Christian Reformed Church (yes, that really was a big deal), and a couple of shotgun weddings in the 1800s.

Some thing I have come to realize was the importance and necessity of marriage for the females of the time.  Women couldn’t work enough to support themselves.  Men needed a wife to take care of house, home and children, and if she died there was no one to do that job. Men had to remarry in order to have someone help raise the children left behind. All this makes me wonder how ‘blended’ families from the 1800s got along. Think about it: eleven children with an age gap of 34 years from oldest to youngest.  Did the sons from Wife 1 feel more entitled than the ones who came later? Did the younger ones even feel a familial bond of any kind with the siblings who were old enough to be their own parent? Maybe the concept of family was different when second cousins and step-siblings married each other. Today is just seems kinda creepy.
The digging for more family roots continues.

Anxious, me? I didn’t think so

Start a sentence, reread, backspace to delete it. Start a thought, pause, backspace to delete it.  Start again, and again …and again.  The idea that getting the perfect first words to land the perfect first impression are tortuous for a perfectionist. (Reread and realize a word is missing and self-edit as you write.)

Does that sound familiar? If so, have you been hiding in my head?

To look at my house and my skills as a Donna Reed impersonator you would not think I was a perfectionist at all. Oh, but I am.  I so totally, completely am. Too bad it isn’t always about the things that matter, like personal appearance, laundry, decluttering and housekeeping.

I just finished reading a short list called 12 Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder.  I didn’t go looking for me.  I was actually looking up natural anti-anxiety remedies with SugarBug in mind.  She’s flying to Seattle in a couple weeks to visit a friend she hasn’t seen in over 6 years. SugarBug deals with some anxiety, and she is on the tail end of recovery from a broken ankle and surgery, and after nearly 12 weeks is finally able to start walking again. She has been on a plane for only one other trip. This time she’s going alone,  and flying out of and into airports I’ve never been to so I have no experience to share on them. Anyhoo, I found a list; it was published by the same website. The “12 Signs …” article came up as the next one in the queue.  Clickbait.  I took it.

For several years I’ve known I am not a good full time employee.  After a while I start thinking my bosses are looking reasons (or excuses) to fire me. “What if they realize i have ____ and ____ flaws? What if I can’t keep this level of performance up?” Self doubt – check. 

The last job I did have I ended up quitting because I could not physically force myself to open my door to go inside one day.  I sat, frozen, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, in the parking lot for over 2 hours before I sheepishly restarted the motor and drove home. Panic – check.

I count the basement stairs every time I walk down them, and usually going back up. Strangely not the ones going upstairs though.  I find myself “air typing” the words of my thoughts as they run through my head. I don’t feel the need to wash my hands multiple times in a row, but I do several times a day because I hate the feeling of dirty hands. Compulsive behavior – check.

Then there are the bathroom/toilet needs: food in, not solid out.  Suffice to say IBS has not been officially diagnosed, but … Chronic-indigestion – check.

I’ve dealt with TMJ for years because of the way my upper jaw structure is.  But lately I’ve noticed my cheeks are sore. What’s up with that?  It seems I’ve been clenching my jaw and carrying all this tension in my face for no apparent reason.  Muscle tension – check.

Sleep problems – check. Perfectionism – check. Flashbacks ( focussing on past negative things, even minor ones) – check. Self-consciousness – oh man, check!  The other things on the list that I don’t really pertain to me: excessive worry, irrational fears, stage fright.

Geez, I do have an anxiety problem.

~~~

Our previous health insurance was a self-funded HMO.  It employed its own doctors, nurses, PACs, and had its own radiology, MSWs, dieticians.  Every six months I had to be reevaluated for a “med check” being on an anti-depressant. I would get a brief two-sided questionnaire.  One side was for the depression, suicidal thoughts and such.  The other side asked about anxiety.  It focused primarily on the level of worry one has, and on quality of sleep.  I never associated sleep quality with anxiety, and since I’m not a chronic worrier I ignored it. It seems their parameters and criteria were a bit lacking, and I should have paid more attention.

Now I need to find a mental health professional to help navigate my new self diagnosis (because self-diagnoses are always accurate, right?).   Except I don’t have a primary care doctor because I lost that when the hubs changed jobs what with him being exclusive to that HMO. And we don’t have new insurance coverage — yet. And SugarBug needs more insulin; without insurance it is hundreds of dollars — per refill.

But I’m not going to worry. I’m not. Really. God’s got this.  And that’s why I don’t worry.  But I might suffer from some mild insomnia whilst clenching my teeth tonight. Deep breath, 2, 3, 4. Hold, 2, 3, 4. Exhale, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 8. Repeat.

It is Well, and yet Not

I held a sobbing child in my arms last night for the first time in a very long time.  I held her close and just let the tears go, with salty bitterness and nose running all down my shoulder.   There were no soothing words to comfort, no back patting to help calm.  Hold her.  That’s all I could do.  I held her until she loosed her grip and let go.  I held her hands in mine, and kissed them.  I took her face close to mine and kissed it.  I whispered “I love you” in her ear.

The beautiful, distraught child was mine.  She will be 18 exactly 13  days from now. She stands an inch-and-a-half taller than me, but in her Doc Martens it is near to 3 inches.  And last night she was my little girl who needed her Momma all over again.  I sat next to her as she, as we, her Dad and I too, attended a funeral.

This was an unexpected funeral, and a tragic one at that, as many tend to be. The service was for a 17 year-old high school Junior who died by her own hand.  Vivi was a friend of SugarBug’s from church.  Being close in age they went through many of the same church programs together starting in the nursery as infants. They have known each other their whole lives but didn’t develop a friendship until both were in high school youth group together.  It was there they bonded over similar music tastes, distaste for conventional trendy fashion and a love for Jesus.

I’ve known Vivi and her parents just as long.  I worked in the church nursery as a Supervisor in charge of one of the rooms when she was born.  Her dad was SonnyBoy’s guitar teacher for a short time.  Her mother and I connected through women’s ministry, and various other ways we had volunteered over the years.

Our girls had another connection: depression.

There are few things in this world I truly hate, and by “hate” I mean I wish it never existed anywhere, anytime in this world.   And I HATE depression.  It is a sinister quiet little devil of a thing.  People who suffer with it look like nothing is wrong with them, at least most of the time.  And those fighting it aren’t always immediately aware when it is getting worse.  Outsiders don’t always realize that something has changed with the person caught in its grip. Sometimes the depressed don’t see it right away either — and they are the ones living with it.  It moves slowly, so slowly that it can be weeks or months before it is recognized as having taken hold.

And sometimes it moves at lightning speed.

Maybe that’s what happened with Vivi, that lightning speed onslaught of darkness.  Only she knows, and she isn’t here to tell us.

I can’t blame her — at least I don’t want to blame her — for taking her own life.  The whispers of self-loathing telling me the world would be a better place, that I would be in a better place, that no one would really miss me all that much, to ‘go ahead, do it’ have been all too familiar. LIES!  Those are all lies.

I want to scream at the top of my lungs. Cursing won’t do any good, and it won’t change anything, and it won’t make me feel any better.  It never does.  Blaming her parents is the absolute wrong thing to do.  Vivi’s dad made sure to have Pastor tell the attendees of the service that no one loved his girl as much or as fiercely as her mother did.

I love my girl fiercely, too.  I am afraid that she has heard those terrible whispered lies in the quiet recesses of her mind.  I am afraid.  And I hate being afraid.  I don’t think she is in any real danger of self-harm. But …I know this age and stage in life makes her extremely vulnerable.  I am  certain she struggles to see beyond being 19 or 20 years old. Anything much past that is just.so.old.

I want her to not just grow up, but grow old.  At Vivi’s funeral our Youth Ministry director said she always thought Vivi would grow up to be one of the coolest adults: independent, artistic, poetic, unfettered by the norms that keep adults so ‘adult.’  I could see that.  And sadly we none of us will get a chance to actually see that.

The night before the funeral during the visitation time Vivi’s mom took my girl in her arms, remembered her by name, and held her tight.  They clung to each other — my daughter in grief, the grieving mother in relief that her child was remembered by a friend. She told my girl how much hers had loved her, how she looked forward to seeing her at youth group, how she loved and admired SugarBug for being SugarBug, and doing it so boldly.

So my sweet girl, continue to go boldly into adulthood.  No matter how old you get you will always have my shoulder to cry on. And make Vivi proud by being one of the coolest adults on the planet, and love Jesus the whole while.

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    • Refrain:
      It is well with my soul,
      It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is Well with My Soul, Horatio G Spafford, 1873

Thanksgiving deception and surprises

I found out, today, my older sister and three of her four kids have packed up what they can fit into a one-way rental car and moved to Fresno — today. It seems this has been arranged for a little while and yet certain persons were forbidden to mention this at Thanksgiving dinner. I’m not quite sure what to make of this yet: the secrecy, forbidding revelations, what will happen with the youngest two who are still in high school. This will be their fourth school and fourth move in four years.

Too much to absorb to fully process this right now. ((sigh))

That is all, and enough.

Arts Beats and Eats, a festival

A 4-day festival running Friday through Monday of Labor Day Weekend in downtown Royal Oak, Michigan,  Arts Beats and Eats brings out the crowds– if the weather is nice – but really isn’t all that family friendly, as far as festivals go.

The city has parking arranged all over the place, and it costs $15 per vehicle for lots and ramps nearby and $10 if you park at the high school and take the free shuttle across town. The parking fees help offset the cost of the police and EMS presence the whole weekend. It’s a bit steep, but at least the Royal Oak PD can get paid and not go broke with the overtime. Any on-street meters were reserved for festival use, and unauthorized parking resulted in a $50 parking ticket.  Local neighbors were subject to parking tickets as well, per the festival website FAQ page, but could get the required permit to park — on their own street.

The entire festival area is fenced in.  Admission is charged at the gate and there are 13 of them around the perimeter so you don’t have to wait long to get in, and at $3 a head it’s not that expensive. Admission did change to $5 per person after 5pm. I felt badly for the people who showed up at 5:01 and had to pay the higher price.  Children 3 and under could get in free at any time, and Friday from 11am – 5pm was also free for everyone.

All bags and purses were subject to searching, and by all  I mean even the minimalist  little sling wallets that hold ID, cash, lipstick and a phone. No one and nothing was singled out from what I could see: men, women, teens, diaper bags, backpacks and people of all shades of the ethnic and religious spectrum. (As an aside, I saw a family of Sikh leaving and separately two Jewish families enter — their top-knotted turbans and yarmulkes gave them away. I don’t expect there was much in the line of Kosher or Halal food available.)   Alcohol was sold so the fence kept that contained to the festival. The 2-4 security guards working at each gate made sure your bag was checked, all outside food and beverages stayed outside and your libations stayed inside.

Once inside it started to go downhill.

There were lots of booths for food and drink vendors. The walking space down the middle of the street, Washington, was narrowed considerably by the  booths lined up like row houses on either side of it, which were not booths per se, just generic white or blue e-z up tents. Some of the side streets were only occupied by tents on one side, so they had a bit more room.  The signage for food and drink booths was commercially printed;  none really stood out to grab your attention, and they weren’t numbered or coded so you had no real way of knowing how close you were to the Chicken Shawarma, Mongolian Beef or pizza. None, absolutely none of these took any money from festival goers.  They cost you TICKETS. And this is where the downhill starts sliding fast, and a test drive could come in handy. I’ll get to that later.

Tickets were sold in sheets of 16 for $10 with no refunds and no option to buy fewer than full sheets from what I could see. That comes out to 62.5¢ per ticket.**  One bottle of soda or water was 5 tickets ($3.125), one sandwich — I had shaved prime rib with mushrooms and onions on a Kaiser roll  — was 12 tickets ($7.50). Want an elephant ear? 10 tickets ($6.25); ice cream cones? 5, 7, or 9 tickets ($3.125, $4.375, $5.625); popcorn? lemonade? beer? more tickets. None of the food booths sold beverages, so you had to make a second stop for that. And you had to choose: warm drinks or eat cold food, depending which booth you went to first.There were plenty of drink booths though, maybe one for every three or four food booths, so you didn’t have far to go to find one. Also mind you, one can not spend a few hours walking around in the sun and only have one drink, so you better double or triple up on beverage ticket use.

There was the carnival with rides at both the north and south ends of the festival. A brilliant idea, really. If the kiddos wanted to ride the ferris wheel and the giant slide you had to cross the full length of the festival in order to get to both, passing all the food, drinks and snacks along the way.  The carnival was an added bonus, and added expense for families that bothered to bring their children. All the rides cost tickets, too. Honestly I didn’t even check the cost in tickets for the rides. The last time I was at a fair or carnival most rides and games were 3-5 tickets or $1.875-3.125 each here. I can see why families with kids aged 3-12 didn’t bother to come.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a good festival.  But let’s add some things up. There are four family members living at home now, so we’ll just use that to help make it easy. None of us would have done any of the carnival rides or games, but for the sake of argument let’s figure on two kids each doing six of the carnival attractions — three rides, three games.

Parking: $15
Admission: $3 ($5*) x4 — $12, ($20) *after 5pm
Food and drink tickets: 16tx for $10 (sold only if full sheets, so you may have leftovers, or Junior goes without his ice cream cone, and who wants to be that parent)
Each “meal” of

  • sandwich (11tx),
  • non-alcoholic drink (2 @ 5tx),
  • snack (popcorn, chips 8tx),
  • sweet treat for dessert (8tx):
  • 37 tickets per person x4 = 148 or 9.25 sheets of tickets

Carnival:

  • 6 activities each
  • x2 kids = 12 @ 3-5 tickets each
  • 36-60 additional tickets. 2.25-3.75 sheets of tickets

Total tickets in whole sheets: 12 or 13 or $120-130

That makes a grand total of  $157-167. Granted some food items were fewer tickets, but alcohol was more than the 5 for sodas or water.  I’m content thinking this is a pretty good average all around.

Arts Beats and Eats had a very commercialized feel to it, in the “let’s see how much we can get away with charging before attendance numbers start to drop off” sort of way. The stages were all sponsored or had ‘naming rights’ from various entities: Ford, Michigan State Lottery and several radio stations to name a few.  The signs and banners didn’t do much to draw your attention because they all looked the same, were the same size, color and design. The names of the eateries providing the food seemed a footnote.  The artists selling their wares did not stand out as they were mixed in between the row houses of food and drink booths in the same generic e-z up tents. I hope the artists didn’t have to pay large sums to be able to exhibit their work.  The whole thing is underwritten by Ford Motor Company. Which is all good and well, since putting on festivals and fairs generally leaves the organizers scrambling to break even months after the tents are stored away until next time. There were various next-model year vehicles parked around the perimeter for festival goers to TEST DRIVE.  As a bonus you would be rewarded with 6 food tickets for taking the time to do so.

Part of the gate admissions does go to charity according to the website, half of the net proceeds after gate expenses are figured. Those, I imagine, are security, paid ticket sales people, fencing, electricity to run lights at the gates, table and chair rental  On a good year about $325,000 is donated to 13 different charities who send volunteers to help work at the entrance gates. That is a lot of money.  It also makes me wonder what happens to the rest since proceeds from the vendors isn’t mentioned.

All in all, I wasn’t very impressed, mostly on account of the overall cost.  We could take our family of four out for dinner to decent restaurants twice for less than this, and still have money left over, or once to a fine dining establishment and come out about even.  It’s funny how we don’t think twice about spending this much at a festival, but balk at dropping that much for one meal. In the end, isn’t it about the same thing? One meal, I mean.   I think I’d rather have my meal served to me in grand style than eat standing up from a paper tray and risk getting beer dumped down my arm or in my shoe.

I guess I’ve been spoiled by the space and affordability of Festival of the Arts in my own hometown.

** I know we don’t have half-pennies in the US anymore, but this is what the math came out to and all calculations reflect the actual cost in dollars and cents for festival fare.

Motivation

I run. Yup, thick girls with thick thighs can and do run. I get a lot of quizzical looks: You run?! You run?! Huh, you run.  (Insert scrunched eyebrows, pinched faces here.) And I don’t run “just a little bit” — I run long distances.  Well, not insanely, crazy long distance Ultra Marathon-lengths of 50km or 50 miles, because, well, that’s just crazy.  No, I run the standard long distances of half (13.1mi) or full (26.2mi) marathons. I’m training for some right now. And I raise money for charity while I’m at it. 

I was out running this past Saturday — 12 miles just so you know —  and The Little Voice Inside asked “What are you doing this for? Really, why?! You’re going to go home smelling all sorts of un-fresh; your legs, no your whole person, will be tired, and it’s going to be dark. Your belly will be too tight to eat any sort of proper meal so you’ll go to bed hungry, and you’ll prob’ly wake up a little dehydrated.  So, tell me again why?”

Actually The Little Voice Inside didn’t say all of those things, but it was implied in that one word: WHY?  What motivates me to get out the door at half-past-dark-o’clock on a Saturday morning?

I thought about the word, then I decided to look it up*:

mo·ti·va·tion

noun \ˌmō-tə-ˈvā-shən\

Definition of MOTIVATION
1 a : the act or process of motivating
   b : the condition of being motivated
: a motivating force, stimulus, or influence :incentivedrive
— mo·ti·va·tion·al  adjective
— mo·ti·va·tion·al·ly  adverb
Then I had to look up the root word*:

mo·tive

noun \ˈmō-tiv, 2 is also mō-ˈtēv\

Definition of MOTIVE
1: something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act
2: a recurrent phrase or figure that is developed through the course of a musical composition

The short answer is because others can’t, for whatever variety of reasons: illness, physical disability, life is too hectic to add anything else. The even shorter reason is because I can. It’s good for me and my bones. It’s cheaper than therapy and medication. It gives me time to think, or just shut my thoughts down completely.  It gets me outdoors.

The long explanation for the short reason is because I have 6 relatives with 5 different kinds of cancer (prostate, bladder, kidney, breast x2, facial nerve cancer with a name too long to pronounce), a nephew with Down Syndrome, friends with Cerebral Palsy and another who is a 3-time lymphoma and secondary breast cancer survivor.  One friend with CP has said the first thing he wants to do when he gets to heaven is climb a tree.  Climb a tree! It’s one of those childhood rites of passage he’s never had a chance to pass.  That really struck a chord with me — no tree climbing, no hopscotch, no Red Rover, no raucous games of tag, no jungle gym swinging.  All these childhood playground and neighborhood games watched from the sidelines. That thought made me, makes me, sad.

That thought also made me quicken my step just a bit. On Saturday I posted my best pace to date for 12 miles.