Flying high…

Poor Ole Bessie’s in the shop. With two weeks to My Gump Ride, I want to make sure she’s in tip-top shape. Going on 7-years-old (I wonder what that would be in human years?), she needs a little extra TLC these days. With Memorial Day being a literal wash-out and the two-day holiday of Shavuot on Wednesday and Thursday (i.e. shop Monday, cook Tuesday), thankfully yesterday was a perfect weather day for a bike ride. I didn’t plan on going for a long ride. The hubby was smokin’ some meat on the grill, so I wanted to burn enough calories to offset my trough, but be home in time before it all got eaten. I also didn’t plan my route, knowing pretty much every road I can travel, how long each one takes and which ones will not get me run over by crazy holiday drivers.

So I headed down one of my regular paths, Elbo Lane. Before my parents moved to the area (their last home was off Elbo Lane), this road was not even in my sphere of cycling knowledge.

Image result for elbo lane mt laurel nj map

Yes, I realize that “Elbo” is misspelled (there’s a town in Cape May County known as “Dias Creek” that was originally named “Dyer’s Creek” for the farmer whose land butted the waterline…okay, okay…I acknowledge that New Jerseyians are not the best at spelling…). And what I also find comical is that in 4.26 miles length there is only one “elbow” on Elbo Lane – where it starts (look to the far left of the screen where Elbo starts next to the NJ Tpke.) I’m for once content that a road actually lives up to its name, despite its inability to spell correctly. However, I very rarely ride that elbow – I prefer to sneak down Texas Avenue (I wonder if there are any Texans on Texas Avenue…it sure isn’t shaped like the state…). I decided that I wasn’t going to time myself or look at the odometer – I was going to enjoy the beautiful day and just ride for as long as I felt like. If I found something interesting to investigate or wanted to take a picture, I was going to stop.

About two-thirds of the way down Elbo Lane is a little church I’ve ridden by dozens of times. Since I normally take my long rides on Sunday, there’s always a full parking lot. As I approached the church, I felt my body in slow motion, glimpsing a sign I’d never noticed before:

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As you can read from the sign, the building to the left of the church is the oldest standing Black schoolhouse and religious meetinghouse in the State of New Jersey. The “newer” church (at 150-years-old) built to accommodate its growing membership, is also known for playing its part in the Underground Railroad pre-Civil War…WOW! I’m constantly amazed at how much historic wealth New Jersey has to offer.

The most interesting aspect of this historic site was that I didn’t even realize there was a cemetery behind the church:

WOW again! Pre-civil war graves of escaped and freed slaves, as well as the graves of Black soldiers who fought in the Civil War right here in New Jersey! (Of course my Israeli tour guide would chide at the idea of something being under 2000 years old, but hey, we’re a lot younger nation dude…) The other interesting thing is that Dr. James Still is buried in this cemetery (remember last Sunday’s ride?!). There are no coincidences in this life…

A little further up the road, Elbo Lane, at some point in its past, decided to turn into Stacy Haines Road – and you’ll be thrilled to know that (YES!) there are people with the sir name Haines living on this road (I’m not sure about Stacy, though…).

Less than 2 1/2 miles long, Stacy Haines Road is home to the Air Victory Museum, which I’ve written about before. However, this time there were actual pilots and students learning how to fly.

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Imagine…all day for three hours, all I saw was my beautifully “fake blue sky…” it’s the best drug on the planet…

…but then I missed my turn and ended up on the end of Creek Road (despite my seemingly cognizant attempt to stay away from it) where the entrance to 295 takes over and cyclists are told to, “Get the f**k off the road” at regular intervals, even though we’re allowed to be there (albeit, crazy, but legal…). Managing to not get hit, run over and/or killed, I survived long enough to end back up on the scenic back streets of Burlington County…and then my wonderful fake blue sky grew thick and gray…

Little voice: “You’re so done…let’s just go home and eat barbecue…”

Me: “Absofrigginlutely!”

“I’m up ‘n’ I’m down ‘n’ I’m gone, I’m around
I’m driving along with no wheels on the ground
Hang on to me tight ’cause it doesn’t last long
A few hours more and it’ll be gone”

Fly Me High – Moody Blues

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump

My light brigade…

“Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them.”
The Charge of the Light Brigade – Alfred, Lord Tennyson
To the left of me…
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…and to the right…
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This sky says, “I don’t know how the hell I feel today…just don’t f**k with me…”
All I wanted today was a bike ride. After a couple of rainy days, that’s all I needed today…a bike ride. I really needed it today…
I woke up in a very pissy mood this morning (just ask the hubby, who got yelled at by me for yelling at the cat who howls day and night for food because she’s on a strict diet and who then got yelled at by me for the same reason the hubby yelled at her to begin with…). I couldn’t put me finger on it. Upon rising, I felt overwhelmed and discombobulated. Before yelling at the hubby (and then the cat), I frantically cleaned the house in preparation for the carpet cleaning guy. Why?! Why did I feel the need to clean the house for the guy who’s going to steam clean my carpets? I’ll tell you why. It’s the same reason why you clean up the house for the cleaning lady before she comes over to your house to clean. It’s not crazy – I know a number of women who do this. Aside from a possible diagnosis of OCD, I still don’t know why I/we do this.
After cleaning up, I waited for the carpet guy to finish up so I could finally go out for that much needed bike ride. Once the carpet guy left, the hubby asked me why I was being so “mean and grumpy.” I insisted that I hadn’t been “mean” to him (despite his belief that yelling at him for yelling at the cat who I then yelled at for the same reason counts as “mean”), but gladly admitted to feeling grumpy. In talking out how I was feeling, a dream from early this morning came back to me.
My dreams come to me like full blown movies. They’re so vivid, they scare me because sometimes I can’t recall if what I “saw” was a memory or a dream. One of these days I’m going to record them because they really would make for great movies. In this dream, I found myself in what I felt was my house, but the layout didn’t exactly match. All around me was filth – old stew smeared against a cabinet and all over the floor, colorful animal confetti strewn everywhere and random trash throughout. Meanwhile, the carpet guy (yup, the same guy) is downstairs cleaning the carpets and my dead parents are having a garage sale in my driveway. I remember yelling at my husband for throwing the confetti and not vacuuming it up, he replying, “I didn’t feel like it. I’ll do it later.” And then I started crying over the stew…and then I woke up in that pissy mood…
In talking it out, I realized that my mood had been caused by this crazy dream (I half expected to find stew all over my kitchen this morning). Not until later this afternoon did I recognize the “stew” as the marinara sauce that sprayed across my less-than-a-year-old kitchen renovated by my inheritance of dead parents (are you crying with me yet?!) after my daughter dropped an entire jar of it on the granite counter top I didn’t want in the first place and that put me several thousand dollars over budget. Let’s just say it took me quite a while to clean up the mess – two days later I was still finding splatters. The kid was banished to her dungeon…only I could clean this the right way. As for the confetti? No clue…I don’t believe in the 28 years I’ve been with him that my husband has ever played recklessly with confetti, nor would he leave such a mess to clean later (he’s very well trained after all these years). Hence my pissy mood (and urge to clean) upon waking…
Now that I had self-therapized (yeah, I made that one up), I was ready for that bike ride…and then those big black clouds came rolling in. Nope, not happening. I was feeling way too defiant. That bike ride was going to be rain or shine…
So, the first mistake I made was neglecting to take my Claritin. According to The Weather Channel today, the grass pollen is “very high,” and my face sucked up that grass pollen like my lungs depended on it. But as determined as I was, with clogged ears and swollen sinuses I pedaled on (and now I sneeze repeatedly as I type)…
The second mistake I made was going to my go-to place. As you know, normally it’s no big deal, but apparently this weekend is some kind of east coast rowing regatta…and these people take this shit seriously
Roads blocked, thousands of pedestrians and onlookers, colorful tents with school insignias as far as the eye can see and lots and lots of boats. I eyed thin, tanned students at various stages of their racing, admiring how beautiful and strong they had made their bodies. I watched parents cheering on their children, some hanging back in tents while others drank at the garden bar or cooked food for kids on makeshift grills. Needless to say, it was very crowded. Although entertaining, I didn’t like my go-to place being taken over by these bizarrely obsessed people.
The third mistake I made was not going for that bike ride before I decided to clean the house for the carpet guy. Forgetting that it’s Memorial Day weekend, I found myself right smack in the middle of an unusually earlier rush hour because everyone was getting off work at the prescribed 3:00PM Monday holiday Friday dismissal. Oh, and don’t forget the school buses…
The only thing that’s going to save me from this pissy mood is Shabbat. No nothing for 25 hours…and hopefully no bizarre dreams….
“It follows, now swallow
You’re biting it now
Suffocate, suffocate
Breathe
Dust is everywhere
Sweep”
Dust – Parquet Courts

Seeing

For the record, although this may be what you see when you get off the plane at Newark Liberty International Airport, this is not New Jersey:

HOLIDAY TRAFFIC

This is what the rest of New Jersey actually looks like:

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Colorful farms as far as the eye can see, chock full of cows, horses, ponies, donkeys, alpacas, sheep, goats and chickens (just to name a few). There’s also hundreds of open roads lined with acres of unsettled land dotted with an occasional house, local markets and mom and pop shops.

Continuing to work up to the 55ish miles I’ll be riding in less than three weeks, I hopped on Ole Bessie and just pedaled in whatever direction she chose. I found myself riding down Church Road (not to be confused with Church Street – they are two very different roads!), which begins in a small town northwest of my home known as Merchantville. It continues through my neighborhood and east into Burlington County – in my opinion, one of the most beautiful places in New Jersey.

My first stop on the day’s journey was Johnson’s Corner Farm in Medford, one of mom’s favorite places to visit:

You always know what season it is at Johnson’s – strawberry lights fill the trees, ladybug flags blow in the wind, colorful baskets of flowers brilliantly displayed, the sound of laughter and children playing on the playground, whimsical tchotchkies to decorate the home, planters made from old license plates and hay rides out to the fields to pick your own strawberries…ahhh…spring has finally arrived and summer is near!

Still riding through Medford, I discovered an historic site I never noticed before:

The now vacant property was the former home of “Dr.” James Still, a free slave who learned medicine and herbalism without having ever attended medical school. The original house/office was demolished by its new owners in 1932 and later purchased by the State of New Jersey (FYI, the first and only African American historic site purchased by the State). As a cultural anthropologist and amateur archaeologist, I was sad to read this, attempting to envision how beautiful the home must have been during his lifetime. So much can be learned from the way people live.

http://www.blackpast.org/aah/still-james-1812-1882

http://www.medfordhistory.org/drstillcenter/index.php

A ways down the road, I stopped at a place I’ve driven by many times but never explored, another historic site known as Kirby’s Mill, the last working mill in New Jersey:

http://www.medfordhistory.org/kirbysmillhistory/index.html

Thank goodness for historical societies! If not for the enthusiasm and dedication of its members, projects like this would not exist (nor would the public know about them). It’s disheartening that so many Americans are no longer interested in their own history and allow important artifacts of our past to lay in waste…

Resuming my journey, I found Church Road coming to an end in a quaint, friendly and peaceful little village called Vincentown:

http://www.southamptonnj.org/history/tours/

Heading north and then west, I pedaled my way towards “civilization.” After a day of open roads, beautiful scenery, friendly faces and peaceful quiet, I felt instantly frantic in the wake of speeding cars and honking horns. Talk about a buzz kill…at least it’s not Newark…

At one point on my journey, I realized I had been down these roads a couple of times in previous years. Way before Ole Bessie (who will be seven years old this year), I had to drive my bike to a nearby parking lot to ride a part of this route. The first time I struggled painfully and got lost (i.e., PCPE, pre-cell phone era [and way before GPS]). I returned a second time, refusing to give in to pain and loss. I did better, but the ride still ended in discomfort and occasional wrong turns.

But on this ride, I suddenly knew where I was and where I was going, despite Ole Bessie ever having been there (okay…having a smartphone and reliable GPS does make it easier). I felt energized by the fact that I had ridden my bike the whole way here this time. I also realized something really important – through practice, perseverance and patience I now had a confidence so encompassing I almost cried. I was so self-assured of my riding abilities and fearlessness that I actually got to see where I was going. I noticed the world around me because Ole Bessie and I had become one.

This feeling I now pass on to my one and only child, who will be graduating high school in less than two weeks, three days before My Gump Ride. She will enter the working world this summer and fly off to Israel in the fall where she will study for ten months. This is a route she has “ridden” four times before, each time more insightful than the last. Having “grown” her successfully into a mature adult, my daughter has become one with her own “Bessie” – her self. Hopefully this time she will get to stop and smell the roses as often as she likes whenever she likes and see what the world has to offer her…

Beware…my kid’s a major trailblazer…just look out y’all!

“Stop and smell the flowers
And lose it in sweet music and dance with me
‘Cause there is beauty in the world
So much beauty in the world”

Beauty In The World – Macy Gray

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump

Me Day…

Mother’s Day…that’s an easy one for my brood – a long bike ride and barbecued steak and a bottle of red wine waiting for me at the end is all I need (and don’t dare make me clean up after y’all). For the last 18 years, Mother’s Day is all about this mother…being left alone to do whatever she wants and not having to play mother for the day. So Mother’s Day in my book is actually – Me Day

I was really nervous heading out Mother’s Day morning. The Sunday before resulted in a severe SVT attack…remember the police officer…and the second police officer…and the fire department…and the ambulance…and then the paramedics? Naturally, after such a crazy affair, I was really spooked about riding further and longer. But the little voice just kept telling me to chill out and take my time…and drink lots of water…

Following the weather over the past few days, once again, we had a 20% chance of rain…

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…so why is that the 20% chance is literally always hanging over my head?!

I’ve ridden by this facility at least a dozen times, but never really knew what purpose it served and decided to take a picture and look to Google:

http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/100years/stories/cornfield-cruiser.html

As the article states, it’s definitely “a sight that makes passersby look twice..a warship among the waving cornstalks.”

Riding quickly out of the storm clouds, I decided to ride to here (only because Google Maps assured me it was open, its satellite photo showing me a newly paved road with a number of cars flying over the creek…in hindsight, obviously a video not taken recently).

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Remember this place? It was my very first post on My Gump Ride. Known as Centerton Bridge, running over Rancocas Creek, it’s a causeway I cycled over once (and only once) some time in 2014. It leads to a place known as Rancocas Village, a sleepy little neighborhood of days past, long ago abandoned by it’s citizens. Going on three years since that crossing, one of my new goals is to find an alternate route so I can revisit and take some photos…stay tuned!

http://rancocasvillagenj.org/wths_history/

At least I found a waterfront restaurant with a view of the bridge I meant to take…

Not far up the street from Rancocas Village is Timbuctoo (remember that one?!), which I didn’t realize until looking at Google Maps.

After some research, I discovered an archaeological article about Timbuctoo as well:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128754990

As I turned Ole Bessie around, the rain decided to head in the opposite direction and the sun decided to follow me for the rest of my trip.

I followed the creek up Creek Road (makes sense…), finding myself at Boundary Creek (yup…it literally borders the creek), a place I’ve been several times since my ride two days before Michael’s death in October 2015.

Following Creek Road, you’ll find its end at the Delaware River. Here lays a small town along the river known as Riverton (makes sense again…), a quaint little main street kinda town. This is where the River Line train connects Camden and Trenton, New Jersey.

Just like Moorestown has its Nippers, Riverton apparently has its eagles…

http://www.evergreeneditions.com/article/The+Riverton+New+Jersey+Eagle+Gets+A+Facelift/1112468/118103/article.html

…as does Cinnaminson…

So I managed to get in my long bike ride. Altogether, I rode 33 miles…feeling a little more optimistic about my 55-mile cancer ride in four weeks…a big fat steak and a bottle of red wine waiting for me at table side.

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future

Fly Like An Eagle – Steve Miller Band
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdB9lTUyshM

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump

Let go and let G-d…

I’ve been challenged by a fellow cyclist blogger. Realizing that I drive to places that are less than 3 miles away from my home, I’ve decided to either walk or ride my bike locally when possible…

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and seriously…how does one argue about walking outside with this sky?!

Once my daughter obtained her drivers license, I’ve allowed her to drive my car to her school bus stop, which happens to be in the parking lot of our synagogue and is a mere 10-minute walk from my home. Rain, shine, clouds, ice and snow over the past few months, I’ve trekked my way to the parking lot to retrieve my car. Occasionally, on a lazy day, I’ve left the car for my daughter to drive home (besides, feeling like the cool kid with the “Barcelona red” car that all her peers admired slowly driving away as they waited for their parents to pick them up is the best feeling in the world for any high school senior).

This past Tuesday, I decided to walk to my weekly class at synagogue. Along the way, I took some photos of the ball field behind my house. Starting in late spring and throughout the summer months, this ball field is alive with noise and lights…lots of noise and lights…that blares and glares into my bedroom windows on a nightly basis…thank goodness for township curfews…

However, that day all was quiet…

Last week I also walked to the local Whole Foods Market in search of pita bread, CVS for monthly medications and the Bagel Spot for, well…a bagel…Despite the bagels, I’ve lost a few more pounds simply giving up my car and walking about town.

After class, I went for a short bike ride to my go-to place…

…and then, again, on Thursday…

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Deciding to reverse my usual route, I discovered a sculpture I never noticed before. I actually rode past it when the little voice said, “Wait! Stop!” causing me to suddenly slam on the brakes and turn around so I could take a photo. How is it possible that after 7 1/2 years of riding this path, I never noticed this sculpture before?! For some reason, I wasn’t meant to find this work of art until now…but why?

“As the film opens we see a white feather fluttering on the wind as it gradually floats down, eventually landing next to Forrest Gump’s dirty-tennis-shoe-clad foot. Gump is sitting on a park bench in Savannah, Georgia, a box of chocolates perched on his lap. These two symbols, the feather and the chocolates, illustrate the film’s true key theme: Fate – the uncontrollable events that make each of us what we are. But the film’s emphasis is not on fate itself, but on our responses to what fate deals us. While we can’t decide what happens to us, we each have important choices to make in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.”

Terry Murphy – Philosophy Now

https://philosophynow.org/issues/83/Forrest_Gump

That little white feather has intrigued me since the very first time I saw the movie Forrest Gump, so when I read the above article, something clicked in my brain.

Two weeks ago, my rabbi talked about this very subject (FYI, “coincidence” is a myth). For me, “fate” is actually G-d’s plan for my life. The events of my life that are uncontrollable and make me what I am, are all part of the plan. My creation was not a choice. It was given to me by G-d and I accepted it, warts and all, not knowing what to expect ahead. Although I don’t know what’s next and have no control over it, I have solace in knowing there’s a plan laid out for me. I can make the choice of least resistance and deal with it or swim upstream against it my entire lifetime. Granted I’ve had my moments of exhaustion swimming upstream, but giving in and allowing my life to happen as it should is a lot less stressful…I sometimes think that’s what people feel towards the end of their lives – they just let go at some point. Minutes before my mother died, I told her, “It’s not about giving up, it’s about letting go.” She passed 10 minutes later…

I don’t know what my “destiny” is or will be, nor do I know what purpose Maureen, Michael, Dad and Mom had in their lifetime on this planet. At some point I hope to be told, but for now, I’ll just go with the flow…

“Surely you know by now my heart is wild

I don’t want to be tied down, it ain’t my style

Don’t you think I know a better world is kind of other too dis-selfish

Well, I can’t help it, I’m destiny’s child”

Destiny’s Child – Johnny Cash (Waylon Jennings)

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump

Thank you Pearl and f**k you heart!

The cancer ride is five weeks from today, so I’m desperately trying to get in some long rides. Each time I’ve returned from a ride exhausted and pained after only 25 or so miles, my dread increased exponentially. Can I do this?! If this is what 25 miles feels like, what will 55 miles feel like in the end?!

But this week they arrived…my new bike tights – brand new Pearl Izumi compression tights with an anatomical chamoise – something I’ve never had. For years I’ve been riding padless, struggling to reach the end without chafing to the point of tears. Kathy insisted that not having padding was at the core of my struggle…and she was right. After a test run earlier in the week and adjusting to the I’m-wearing-a-giant-diaper feeling and a little sliding around in the saddle, I do believe I’ve discovered my cure. This morning I decided to put this wonderfully cushioned delight to a real test…

For two years I’ve been planning to ride my bike to the cemetery in North Hanover Township where both my parents and two brothers are laid to rest. By car the ride takes about 40 minutes. According to Google Maps, it would take about 2 1/12 hours by bicycle. One way, it’s about 28.3 miles. I’ve done 28 miles before, albeit painfully so, but I’ve done it. With my new Pearl Izumi compression tights with the anatomical chamoise, I knew I could do it…and off I went…

Along with my new tights, I also bought a portable charger (no way was my phone going to die on any long ride again!) and a little hangtime bluetooth wireless portable speaker to play music off my iPod (after being lectured by Kathy last year about the dangers of wearing headphones on the road). I was set – Pearl Izumi compression tights with the anatomical chamoise? Check! Smartphone? Check! Portable charger? Check! Bluetooth? Check! iPod? Check! Extra water (no dehydration on this trip dude!)? Check! Backpack filled with raincoat, ID, debit card, snacks, extra gloves, house key, lip balm, hand sanitizer, wipes, eye drops, reading glasses, bike kit, TWO extra inner tubes, bike pump? Check! Ready to rock and roll!

A mile up the road, upon entering Maple Shade, my new bluetooth speaker abruptly turned itself off. Having charged it to capacity literally within the hour, I couldn’t figure it out. I turned it back on. Music played…then dead…I forgot to charge my iPod…

(Enter stage left – little voice creeps in unexpectedly):

Little voice: “It’s a sign, ya know.”

Me: “Shut up! I simply didn’t charge my iPod. I’ll just listen to Pandora on my cell phone.”

Little voice: “But what happens when you bleed your phone battery dry? Hmmm?!”

Me: “That’s why I have the portable charger! Haha!”

Little voice: “But did you check to see if the power cord fits your phone?”

Me: “Shut up…”

Bringing up my Pandora app, I listened contently to my pre-chosen stations, anxiously praying my battery wasn’t slowly having the life sucked from it.

I first stopped in the quaint little town of Moorestown to take photos of the local “nipper” statues…

 http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/10762

…and I felt great…thank you Pearl Izumi! Let’s keep going…

The little voice was starting to play a number on my brain, so I stopped at a Target on the way to purchase an iPod cord I could hook up to my portable charger. I didn’t want to waste too much power from my phone. My destination was in the boonies…and I mean boonies. I needed my phone…

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With my iPod charging, I continued on my journey…

Little voice: “Why are you wasting that portable charger on your iPod?! Whaddya gonna do when the charger dies and you can’t charge your phone?!”

Me: “Shit…”

I unplugged the iPod and turned off Pandora. It was about time I just heard the sounds around me while riding…and I loved it!

Thank you Weather Channel for getting it all wrong…again…Watching the weather pattern intently all weekend, I was given a 20% chance of rain. I get it – it doesn’t mean that there’s a 20% chance of rain. It means that 20% of my day will encounter rain. Conscientiously watching the dark ominous clouds in my rearview mirror, I told myself to hustle. Within a few miles of the cemetery, looking to my left and seeing bright blue skies and looking to my right and seeing bright blue skies, I had a feeling that the 20% chance of rain was literally hanging over my head…

By the time I reached the cemetery (in 2 1/2 hours mind you), the rain had ceased and I felt great – thanks again Pearl!

Convinced I could make the entire ride back, I parked my bike near my brother’s grave site and realized I couldn’t remember where he was buried. Suddenly, and without warning, all the joy was sucked from my body and I felt like I was going to pass out, my vision turning white…

Out of nowhere, and for no apparent reason, an attack of SVT hit me like a storm. For those of you not familiar with SVT (supra-ventricular tachycardia), it’s an electrical condition of the heart whereby the heart suddenly skips a beat and spasms uncontrollably in an attempt to catch a rhythm – I’m talking a heartbeat over 250 bpm. My brother Michael had it too. He opted for heart ablation, which obliterated the problem. Having learned to control these attacks over the past 20+ years, I’m not quite ready for this kind of action. So I sat on a bench and did what I’ve always done – beared down…and nothing.

Why it took an hour of my heart racing to the point of not feeling my own pulse, is not surprising. I’m completely ignorant when it comes to my health. I found myself in a gazebo where I repeatedly attempted to regain control of my heartbeat, my vision again turning white with occasional points of almost passing out. That’s when I finally called my husband and said I needed him ASAP. Knowing it would take him 40 minutes to reach me, I called back and told him I was calling 911.

So here I am alone in a cemetery on a Sunday afternoon. The offices are closed and there’s no military or security anywhere in sight. I begged myself not to pass out. And what was I thinking? “Dammit! I know I could’ve made it back home!” Up to that first flutter, I felt great (thanks to Pearl). I was actually mad at myself. I was mad at my heart. I was mad at my doctor for prescribing a drug that causes heart palpitations. I was mad at her for not taking me off it completely. Guess who I’m calling first thing in the morning…?

As I sat in the gazebo, knowing the police and EMTs were on their way, I gave it one last try. Bearing down like I was giving birth, my heart suddenly stopped and my pulse returned to normal…just as the first police officer approached me…then the second…and then the local fire squad…and the ambulance…followed by the paramedics…

Me: “Hey guys! Umm…false alarm?”

Little voice: “You’re an idiot…”

Why is that? Why am I an idiot? Why do I ignore my body telling me to stop? Why do I put myself in these dangerous situations? Why do I defy death with such arrogance? The fear of passing out alone in the boonies frightened me. What if I was having a heart attack and died there? I wouldn’t be found until the morning at the earliest. What am I thinking?! I’ll tell you why – because I didn’t pass out and I didn’t have a heart attack and I didn’t die at that moment…again. My knights in white stallion cars and red chariots arrived in the nick of time…again…I got away with it…again…

At dinner tonight we talked with our daughter about her friends and what she thinks of their futures, ranging from total loser to the crowning achievement. She talked about a friend whose attitude toward school had changed significantly over the past weeks. He didn’t seem to care about the consequences of his actions – being late, skipping class, dressing inappropriately. I reminded her of another friend who’s been told repeatedly over the past two or three years that he will be thrown out of school because of the same kind of behavior. Every time the administration spoke to him, he upped the ante. Despite breaking every rule possible in an attempt to sabotage his education and get thrown out of his school, nothing happened…and now he will graduate…at the bottom of his class. He got away with it…so why should the other friend give a shit about doing the right thing? He,too, will get away with it…until something different happens…

And then I asked myself: “At what point will I concede before not getting away with it?”

I need to do some serious soul searching here…

…and this is what the sky looked like when we left the cemetery:

IMG_20170507_150054627_HDR

Dammit!

“I’ll be a devil, till I’m an angel, but until then.
Hallelujah, gonna dance, gonna fly, I’ll take a chance riding high,
Before my number’s up, I’m gonna fill my cup,
I’m gonna live, live, live, until I die!”

I’m Gonna Live Until I Die – Frank Sinatra

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump