Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Holiday Recap

Thanksgiving at our house this year was great!  Meezy and my Mom worked really hard in the kitchen to get everything ready.  I tried to help however I could, but being on my feet was really making me tired.  They mostly told me to just stay out of the way!  We ended up having 20 people at our house, but there was plenty of room and the company was great.  It was nice to have all my nephews and nieces there who live out of town.  They're awesome kiddos (they're all over 20, but they're still kiddos to me!), and I love hanging out with them.  We also had some other family there that I don't get to see very often, and it was nice to catch up with them! 

On Friday, Meezy's brother and fiance (Seth & Katie) came into town to stay with us for the weekend.  We decided to try out a local Mexican restaurant for dinner.  Just getting there was an adventure, since normally my gimpy leg takes up the entire back seat!  We worked out an arrangement where I sat at an angle in the back, with my leg extending onto the center console of the front seat.  Luckily Seth didn't mind my foot chilling by his arm, so it worked out!  The food was good, especially the layered queso, and Meezy found a girlie drink there that he liked.  (Haha).  We didn't have any complaints, but I'm not so sure how long that place is going to stick around, considering there were only four other people in the restaurant besides us!  After dinner, we headed back home and sat around in the living room, just catching up.  I'm not sure how many hours we spent talking, but it was great since we don't get to spend nearly enough time with them!

On Saturday, we headed to Potbelly's for lunch.  They don't have one of those in Amarillo, and it's one of Katie's favorite sandwich places, so we knew we had to fit it in before they headed home.  Meezy and I love it too, so we were happy to go!  After lunch, we decided to take a short drive over to this area called "Urban Reserve."  Last year, my sister and hubby had driven us to this new neighborhood with "green" houses that all have really unique designs.  It hadn't taken off yet at the time we last visited, so we thought it might be interesting to drive Seth and Katie through it, to see if it had gained popularity and if more crazy houses that been built there.  To our surprise, it still looked pretty much the same as it did last year!  I guess the idea never really took off.  There were only a couple of houses that were being lived in, and the other few completed ones were for sale.  There were lots of empty lots, with just signs in front of them showing which unique design would be built there, if sold.  It was still fun to show them the weird designs that had already been constructed, and they even walked through one house that was in progress. 

On Saturday night, Meezy, Seth, Katie, and my brother-in-law headed to the AAC to watch the Mavs play the Heat.  Seth and Katie have liked LeBron James for a while now, and we knew this was pretty much the only opportunity they'd get to see him play this year.  I was originally supposed to go (in place of my bro-in-law) when we bought the tickets a couple of months ago, but my recent injury precluded me from attending.  :(  I was pretty bummed about that, but I'm just glad they had a great time!  Katie brought me home some cotton candy, which I had mentioned before that I would definitely have bought had I attended, so that helped cheer me up!

Everything had been going great that weekend, but unfortunately I had a little run-in with my doggle, Juneau, that dropped me down a couple of notches.  As I walked in the door on Saturday night, she was excited to see me and jumped on my back.  As she was coming down, her front feet hit the back of my busted knee and pushed it forward.  The brace is supposed to keep it from bending, but the force of her legs jammed it forward as far as the brace would allow it. It caused a lot of shooting pain and I immediately burst into tears.  The pain was reminiscent of the night the injury originally happened, so I was pretty distraught.  I was embarrassed for crying in front of my in-laws, but I really just couldn't control it!  I hobbled to my bedroom and tried to calm down.  Luckily the pain subsided some after a few minutes, and I didn't want to end the night on that crappy situation, so I made my way back into the living room to hang out with the group.  We ended up talking for hours again, mostly laughing at childhood stories of Meezy and Seth and then laughing at how similar Katie and I's relationship with those boys has been since then!  It was a good way to end their visit. 

After Seth and Katie left on Sunday, Meezy and I spent most of the afternoon just relaxing and watching football.  Periodically I would get shooting pains in my knee that would cause me to flinch, and I can't help but think they're the result of Juneau jumping on me.  The pain I've been experiencing in my knee over the past week has mostly just been a dull, constant pain that I've learned to deal with.  These shooting pains are new, and I'm not used to them!  I hope they go away soon.  I have my next appointment with the orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday.  I'll keep you posted! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kneecap Knews

This past Monday was my first day back to work since I fractured my kneecap.  It's a LOT of effort now to do things that were previously considered routine.  Just sitting at my desk is a chore, because it's hard to find a comfortable position.  I started out with an overturned trashcan as my leg rest, then moved on to a smaller cardboard box when the trashcan became uncomfortable, and have now settled on a small filing cabinet.  I have to switch positions every now and then, because the rest of my body gets really tired.  I'm pretty much leaning or carrying weight on the left side of my body at all times, so sometimes my left arm and hand shake.  Other times my left foot gets some shooting pain in it, because it's having to work overtime.  I think I've strained an upper abdomen muscle on my left side because I constantly have to reach across and lift my right leg to move it.  It feels like deadweight and is kinda heavy, for instance, when I have to raise it off the ground and put it on the bed or couch.  All of this is on top of the soreness I have in my hands and underarms from using crutches.  Have I mentioned how awesome this situation is?  Sigh.  This is only week one.

After work on Monday, I came home and was completely exhausted.  I went to bed early and planned on going through the same routine on Tuesday.  When I woke up that morning though, the pain was really bad in my knee. I got out of the shower and had to immediately lay down because of exhaustion and pain.  I laid on the ground for a few minutes, in tears, and decided I just couldn't go to work.  Of course I had also run out of pain medication, and my pharmacy didn't open until 9am.  It was not a great morning.  Meezy was a lifesaver and went to the pharmacy for me so I could get some relief.  He had to go to work after that, though, so I just laid in bed, waiting for the medication to kick in.  When it finally did, I was able to take a short nap.  Sleeping is my favorite now, since I don't feel pain during that time!  That afternoon, I had another appointment with the orthopedic surgeon.  Since I can't drive myself, and Meezy and my sister both had work meetings, my mom was nice enough to make the long drive up to get me and take me to the doctor.  Unfortunately we sat in the waiting room for 45 minutes before being seen, which means the entire ordeal with all driving time took about 4 hours of my mom's time.  (I feel so bad about that.  It was incredibly nice of her to take that much time out of her day for me, and I am very thankful)!  The doc said my patella is still sitting up where it should be on my knee, and the bones haven't moved at all, so he still recommends just using the rigid brace instead of having surgery.  I'm now set up to come back weekly for x-rays to verify this is still the case, and in a couple weeks they'll also start evaluating whether I can bend or not.  I'm not looking forward to that!

After my mom dropped me back off at home, my sister arrived a short while later with dinner.  Two other friends, Rebecca and Mike, also arrived to bring me a present.  My supper club, "The Bacon Gang," had all chipped in and gotten me silly gifts to use in decorating my brace and crutches.  Since I'll be very closely acquainted with those items for the next 6-8 weeks, they thought it would be funny to "bedazzle" them.  I look forward to putting on my fancy stickers over the holiday break.  LOL.  It was really cute of them to get that gift for me, and it brought a smile to my face for a change!  After they left, my sister began cleaning my house and getting it ready for the Thanksgiving lunch I'll be hosting tomorrow.  She arranged all the extra tables and chairs for me, cleaned multiple rooms, did my dishes, and pretty much got my place looking perfect and ready for company.  I was incredibly grateful for her help, because if I had attempted to perform all of those tasks on crutches, it would've taken me many, many hours.  I am so very lucky for the wonderful friends and family that I am surrounded by.  Happy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Good News, I Guess

I've never been great at handling pain medication, and this situation has proven to be no different.  I can't stand the pain of my fractured patella, but I also don't like feeling nauseated and weak all the time.  I have to take the pills on a full stomach to avoid that, but I can't eat every 4 hours!  This morning I took a pill and ate some cereal, but it still wasn't enough to make me feel confident enough in taking a shower.  I get weak when I stand up for too long while taking this medication, and I figured that adding in the effects of hot water would most likely lead to fainting.  I can't bend my knee at all, and there's not enough room for me to sit with the shower door closed, while my leg is extended.  I found a solution to getting myself clean, and let's just say it was quite creative. (The floor outside the shower got a tad bit wet).

After that ordeal, which I'll unfortunately have to go through daily for the next few weeks, Meezy drove me to the orthopedic surgeon's office.  They took some more x-rays to see if anything had changed since Wednesday night. They showed me the fracture, which was like a horizontal line through the middle of the patella.  The two pieces didn't move far apart, so the surgeon told me he didn't recommend surgery.  He believes the pieces can fuse back together on their own if my leg is kept immobilized for a few weeks.  They fitted me with a brace that has rods on either side to keep my leg stiff.  My knee can't move right now, because they have it locked down.  As more time passes, they can release the tension and set the angle of the rods so that they are able to bend some.  I have no desire for that to happen anytime soon, since the little bending I've done so far has been excruciating!  I still can't put weight on that leg, even with the brace on, so I'm stuck with crutches for a while.  It's been hard getting used to it, but I know it'll get easier.  Just imagine not being able to sit regularly on your couch, in your car, in a chair, etc.  My leg always has to remain completely straight.  I'm going back to the surgeon next week to make sure the healing has started and to verify that surgery still isn't necessary.

I know this isn't anything I can't handle, but I'm really upset at how much it has ruined my plans for the next couple of months.  No more flag football, no tennis playoffs, no half-marathon, no Big D Climb, and probably no Warrior Dash.  If you know me, you know how much my life revolves around sports and athletic endeavors.  To say I'm disappointed is an understatement.  I'm not one to be content with coming home and sitting on the couch every day.  I'm an active person, always looking to do things on my feet.  That won't be happening again for a while.  Sigh.  Here's my setup for the next couple of months:

 Notice the lack of definition in the right knee since it's still super swollen.  :(

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Life Changes Fast

I had a moment in my flag football game last night that, despite happening in a matter of seconds, will affect me for at least the next 4-6 months, and possibly longer.  I was running a route, looked back to the quarterback to receive the pass, and collided knee to knee with a defender.  He was standing still, and I was at medium speed.  I immediately dropped to the ground and felt shooting pain coming from my knee.  I sat on the ground for a minute, trying to see if I could bend my leg and work it out a little bit.  It hurt like hell, but I got up and tried to continue.  I play on a co-ed team with a bunch of pretty tough folks, so I let them convince me it was just a "stinger."  As soon as I put weight on it to run, I knew something was very wrong.  I tried as hard as I could to stay in for a couple more plays, but finally I swallowed my pride and told them I needed to sit out.  Luckily another girl showed up right then, and she took my spot on the field.  I sat on the ground for the rest of the game since it hurt to put any weight on my leg.  Afterwards, I hobbled over to my car and cried once I got inside.  It was excruciating.  Since I was by myself, I had to suck it up and drive home through the pain.  Once I got home, I hopped inside and went immediately to the couch.  Laying there with my leg extended straight out, the pain was manageable.  My knee started swelling up pretty badly though, and it definitely wasn't looking right.  At one point I had to use the restroom, so I hobbled there and sat down.  Bending my knee was the worst pain I've ever felt.  Luckily it was only my doggles in earshot, because I yelled out some choice words.  I went back to the couch and started getting worried about what was really wrong. 

Once Meezy got home, we decided we'd call my doctor first thing in the morning and try to set up an appointment.  I had to use the restroom again, and this turned out to be the last straw.  I couldn't handle the pain and I yelled out in agony.  I was bawling by this point.  Meezy knew there was no way I would make it until the next morning.  It was after midnight, but we headed out to the hospital.  I had to scoot myself into the back seat with my leg extended.  The drive to the ER felt like forever!  Once I got there, the admission process was fairly quick though, and I made it back to a room before too long.  Without moving at all, there was throbbing pain, and I couldn't twist or bend my leg in any way without it being immensely worse.  They gave me a morphine shot, and I tried to wait patiently for it to kick in.  After the shot, they wheeled me into x-ray.  They took a few films and the tech told me he was pretty sure he could see the problem, but he would let the nurse or doctor give me the prognosis. 

After thirty minutes, the nurse came in and gave me the news: I had fractured my patella and it was currently in a couple of pieces.  I immediately felt sick to my stomach.  I wanted to vomit just thinking about that bone being broken.  She told me that surgery was probably necessary, and I'd have to set up an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to go over my options.  Great.  They gave me a brace to keep my knee immobilized, and sent me home with a prescription for pain medication.  It was 3:30am by the time we got home.  I set my alarm for 8:30am the next morning, when the surgeon's office opened.  Turns out I only made it to 7am before the pain became unbearable again.  I took a pain pill, but it didn't help much.  I laid in bed uncomfortably for the next hour and a half.  It sucks to have to lay on my back with my leg extended, when I'm used to being a side sleeper with my legs bent.  Bleh. 

When I got ahold of the surgeon's office, they told me they couldn't see me until Friday morning.  Bummer.  I have spent all of today (Thursday) either in bed or on the couch.  It's frustrating.  The pain medicine isn't really taking away the pain, but it is making me sleepy.  So, at least I'm avoiding the pain some of the time by just being asleep!  It's really weird that my leg feels like it weighs a hundred pounds.  When raising your leg, the power comes from your knee.  I have no ability to generate any power there right now, so it's not possible for me to move it. When I try to change positions, I have to use both of my arms to pick it up and manually move it.  Awesome.  I hope this night goes by quickly and my appointment goes well tomorrow.  I'm a little nervous about what they're going to tell me, but I'm just hoping that whatever their recommendation is, we start it immediately.  I think all the options involve some sort of cast or stint for 4-6 weeks, followed by rehab for a few months.  We'll see. 

Here's a pic I took right after I got home from the game last night.  This was before I realized the extent of the injury.  One of those knees is not like the other!  Hopefully I'll get to view the actual x-ray pics tomorrow, if my stomach can handle it!


Monday, November 15, 2010

The Half Marathon is Getting Closer

We're getting down to crunch time, with only three training weeks left before I have to run 13.1 miles.  This past weekend my training plan called for a 10-K run, which is about 6.2 miles.  Meezy and I decided to put it off until Sunday since we were both nursing sore feet.  We started running and were surprised to find that our feet were holding up well and we weren't experiencing much pain.  We planned on pushing it further than the 6.2 miles and seeing just how far we could go.  Then we came to this one street that had a steep decline.  Boooooo.  I didn't realize running down a hill was much harder than running up one.  The amount of stress that put on my hip and ankle was too much to handle.  Instead of heading out for another lap around our neighborhood (~3.5 miles), I turned and went back to our house.  That put my total distance run at 7 miles.  Not bad, and more than my plan called for, but not as much as I wanted to run.  Meezy was a trooper and went another lap, which means he ran more than 10 miles.  What a boss!  The long runs we have left are a 9 mile run and a 10 mile run.  Of course we're supposed to be doing some additional 3 and 5 mile runs during the week, but with sports and sore muscles, we've been slacking on those assignments.  I'm just happy we've still been able to do the long ones, because that's what we're in for on December 5th!    

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Make a Difference

Having donated bone marrow this past January, and then undergoing apheresis in June for the same patient, I make it a habit to keep up with the happenings of the National Marrow Donor Program (Be The Match).  I recently heard about a program they are sponsoring, wherein parents can donate umbilical cord blood.  It doesn't involve any extraction from the baby, just from the cord.  The blood from the umbilical cord is collected after the baby's birth and donated to a public cord blood bank to help someone with a life-threatening disease.  Umbilical cord blood can be used in transplants for patients battling diseases like leukemia and lymphoma, just like bone marrow can.  Considering the cord would normally be thrown away, why not make it useful?  It could save someone's life.  There is no cost to you, because public cord blood banks take care of the collection, testing, and storage. 

The NMDP website lists the steps necessary to donate in more detail, but here they are in a nutshell:

- Discuss your decision to donate with your doctor.
- Find out if your hospital collects cord blood donations.
- Contact the public cord blood bank partnered with your hospital and fill out their consent and eligibility forms

That's it.  They take care of the rest.  Nothing is done differently as it pertains to your labor and delivery.  (The website also details your options if you don't see your hospital on their list).  If you need more convincing, read this boy's story.  If you want to find out more information about donating umbilical cord blood, it can all be found here.  Whenever the time comes for Meezy and I to start a family, I will definitely pursue this.     

Monday, November 8, 2010

An Emotional Experience

I volunteered at the Komen 3 day race this past weekend, for the second year in a row.  Last year, our exchange student did it with me, and it was a really rewarding experience for both of us.  This year, a bunch of my family members got involved, and it provided more great memories.  My mom and I stood on the path towards Pit Stop 4, the last pit stop for the racers before they finished, and cheered them on.  We kept getting choked up at the pictures and messages people had on their shirts, referring to loved ones lost.  When we saw our dear friends, Sarah, Rachel, and Becca make their way towards us, it was bittersweet.  We felt such pride in seeing them conquer this challenge, but also such sadness in remembering why they were doing it.  My mom, Peggy van Wunnik, recently wrote an article for the Neighbors section of the Dallas Morning News about this experience.  I am reprinting it below, with her permission.

This past weekend, 2700 women and men took part in the Dallas-area Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. Each participant raises at least $2300, funds which go to global breast cancer research and local programs supporting breast cancer education, screening, and treatment. In a commitment beyond fund-raising, they walk 60 miles over the course of three days to raise awareness, support those fighting breast cancer, honor lives lost, and celebrate those who have survived the disease. For one unforgettable weekend, they become a community.

Hundreds of volunteers help at the base camp and the pit stops, give rides to those who need a break, care for medical needs, and much more. The pit stops allow walkers to rest, rehydrate, and have a snack. Pit Stop 4 each day is manned by staff from Komen national headquarters along with volunteers. My daughter Joanna works for Komen, and she persuaded me to volunteer. Once I experienced it, I was hooked.

In 2006 my friend Dianne Horton of Cedar Hill volunteered with me. Our task was to stand on the corner and cheer the walkers as they approached Pit Stop 4. We laughed at the crazy outfits some of them wore, and fought tears when we saw tee-shirt tributes to lives lost. We didn’t know anyone walking, but it didn’t matter  - we celebrated as if they were long-lost friends, and told them “Hang in there - you’re nearly done!”

In November 2009, Dianne was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. During her illness, her daughters Sarah St. Louis, Rachel Edwards, and Rebecca Epperley signed up for the 3-Day to honor their mom. They held a garage sale, hosted a concert fundraiser, and appealed to friends, family and coworkers to support their efforts. Their dad Hank joined the support crew which camps with the walkers.  Together the family raised nearly $11,000 for the cause.

Dianne lost her battle with breast cancer on September 11. It would have been understandable for her daughters to decide not to go through with the walk while their grief was so fresh. But they channeled that grief into a determination to follow through, to walk in tribute to the mother they loved so dearly. They know how important it is to hold on to hope for those who still must fight. 

Some people say they’re tired of seeing pink ribbons and hearing about breast cancer. But breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women across the globe. You may never have breast cancer, but someone you know has it or will have it. Even though individual battles will be lost, we have to believe that the war against breast cancer will ultimately be won.  By giving, by loving, by supporting those who fight. 

And for Sarah, Rachel, and Rebecca, by walking 60 miles.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Washington D.C. - Day Four

Our last day in Washington, DC was a busy one!  We started out by visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum.  I had been eagerly anticipating our visit to this museum because I obviously learned about the Holocaust growing up, but knew there was still so much more I needed to see.  Before entering, I saw this sign:

I knew that what I was about to see behind those walls would resonate with me for years to come.  It was an emotional experience.  Even though there are pictures, videos, first-hand accounts, etc, etc, about what happened during that time, it's still hard to wrap your brain around it.  As I walked through the exhibits, I felt anger.  I felt frustration.  I felt extreme sorrow.  I had moments where I felt so incredibly disappointed in the human race.  It's not easy to describe, but I think it's worth everyone's time to experience it for themselves.  There's a quote in the Museum that grabbed ahold of my heart: 

"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me." - Pastor Martin Niemoller

If the Holocaust isn't the most profound example of why we have a responsibility to our fellow man, then I don't know what is.  It didn't just take Hitler and the Nazis to perform this egregious act.  It took countless others who did nothing to stop them.  There were people who stood up, but there weren't enough.  I hope I never forget this lesson.  (On a related note, it used to slightly piss me off when people would unjustifiably compare Obama to Hitler to get attention and create fear.  Now, it makes me furious.  In my opinion, people who try to make that comparison are disrespecting the millions of people who lost their lives in the Holocaust.  Find a more appropriate criticism when you merely dislike someone, asshole).  

After the Holocaust Museum, we headed over to the Capitol for our guided tour.  I was completely clueless as to what the Capitol's interior looked like.  I was surprised at how elaborate it was.  It was cool to think about the important people in our nation's history who had stood in the same places I was standing.  While we didn't get to see the House or Senate Chambers because they required an additional pass, we did get to see the Rotunda, the Old Supreme Court Chamber, and the National Statuary Hall.  Check out some pics below:

While leaving the Capitol, we saw the Supreme Court.  We didn't go inside, but just seeing the exterior of the building was a treat.  Quite a formidable structure!

By this time we were starving, so we walked over to Good Stuff Eatery.  There wasn't anything spectacular about the burger I got, but my Cookies and Cream shake was delicious (thanks to Sarah for suggesting it!).  From there, our next stop was the National Air and Space Museum.  This was Meezy's choice, so I let him set the pace and decide which exhibits to check out.  Tracking the history of air and space travel from its earliest beginnings to now is a mind-blowing journey.  I'm pretty amazed at the bravery the pioneers must have had to get us to where we are today. 

Our last stop for the day was the Human Rights Campaign store near Dupont Circle.  I shop online with this organization, but I thought it would be neat to visit their storefront, since the one in DC is the closest one to me!  Meezy and I picked up a few more items and then set out for our long trek back to the hotel!  All in all, I think we walked about 6 miles this day.  This wouldn't seem so bad, except we had done the same the three previous days!  It was quite an exhausting trip, but worth every minute.  I'm so glad we were able to mark our nation's capital off our list of places to visit.  Still a lot of destinations left, but we're working on it!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Washington D.C. - Day Three

Our third day in Washington, we started out with an awesome brunch at The Boulevard Woodgrill.  French toast was exactly what I needed before another long day of walking!  Our plan was to visit the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima), the Netherlands Carillon, and the National Zoo.  We headed over to the Pentagon first.  In the picture below, you can see the center portion of the building is a different shade than the sides.  This is the part that was hit and has since been replaced.  The Memorial there includes 184 benches, one for each life lost, in chronological order of their date of birth.  The youngest victim was only 3 years old, and the oldest was 71.  If you're reading a name on a bench and facing the Pentagon, it means the deceased was in the Pentagon. If you're reading a name and facing away from the Pentagon (and seeing sky), it means the deceased was on the plane.  It was a somber experience to be standing in that area, but I'm glad we went.  

After leaving the Pentagon, we had planned on heading over to Arlington National Cemetery.  Unfortunately for us, the Marine Corps Marathon was going on and they had lots of streets blocked off for it.  There was no easy way for us to get to the cemetery, so we abandoned that idea.  Instead, we went to the National Zoo.  In case you didn't know, all the museums of the Smithsonian are free for visitors.  The Zoo was no different.  We just walked right in!  We checked out all the animals, with my favorites being the pandas and the gorillas.  I love visiting zoos around the country, so I had a great time.

By this time, we were famished again, so we headed to Mark's girlfriend Sarah's neck of the woods (Adams Morgan).  We ate at a restaurant called Reef.  Any place that serves warm pretzels as an appetizer will get my thumbs up.  From there, we drove to the Marine Corps War Memorial.  This is such a famous statue, that I've seen pictures of a million times, but it was another instance where I just didn't realize how large it was until I was standing in front of it.  It was illuminated since it was nighttime, and it was a beautiful sight to see.   

When you're standing at this Memorial, you  also have an amazing view of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol building in the distance.  They are breathtaking at night. 

Nearby was the Netherlands Carillon, so we headed there next.  It is a bell tower given by Holland, in gratitude for American aid during and after World War II.  I know my Dutch grandparents were immensely grateful to the American people during and after the War, so visiting this site had a special significance for me. 

I think, by this time, we were all exhausted from this busy day, and the other busy days before it!  I noticed the lighting on the Carillon provided some pretty good shadowy silhouettes of us, so we goofed off for a while, making funny poses and laughing at our silliness.  It was a nice break from all the "busy."


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Washington D.C. - Day Two

This was the day of the big rally, so Meezy and I headed over to the National Mall around 10:30am.  It was already pretty crowded by this time, even though the rally wouldn't technically start until noon.  We walked as far up as we could, to about 4th street, but there was absolutely no more room for us.  We started walking back down the Mall, away from the stage, and got to 7th street before there seemed to be a break in the crowd.  We jumped in and found a spot that would give us a view of the satellite screen and be in earshot of one of the speakers.  Even though we were nowhere near the middle of the Mall, we figured this was good enough.  As it got closer to noon, our area started getting packed and it became shoulder to shoulder.  People were everywhere!  They spilled out onto side streets, and stretched almost down to the Washington Monument.  This was our vantage point, from four blocks away from the actual stage.

I had read some tentative schedules listing who would be performing/appearing at the rally, but we weren't sure who would really be there.  When it was all said and done, we had seen Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, The Roots, John Legend, the Mythbusters guys, Sam Waterston (of Law and Order fame), Cat Stevens, Ozzy Osbourne, The O'Jays, Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy, Mick Foley, Sheryl Crow, Kidd Rock, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tony Bennett, and the Daily Show Correspondents.  It was a fun show!  The best part was Stewart's speech at the end of the rally. I could embed it here, but since it's 12 minutes long, I'll just include my favorite quotes from it:

"But we live now in hard times, not end times."
"If we amplify everything, we hear nothing."
"You go, then I'll go."

I've Got a Brain (and I'm not afraid to use it!)


It was refreshing to hear someone speak about how our country ISN'T headed towards doomsday, and how people work together to get things done "every damn day" despite what some people like to report.  It was also nice to be surrounded by people who are frustrated with the current political and news media climate, but prefer rational discourse over yelling and hyperbole.  Lastly, humor is such a welcome refuge when things seem to get overwhelming or completely unreasonable.  It helps keep us grounded and SANE.  On that note, here are some of my favorite signs from the event:

Loudness doesn't equal correctness.

Fox News for Sanity......Just Kidding!

 Islam isn't a threat to my country. Racism and ignorance are.

After the rally was over, Meezy and I grabbed some food so we could rest our tired legs and feet and watch some college football.  It was a nice break after having stood, many times on our tippy toes, for the past 4 hours.  From there, we hopped on the Metro to make our way to my nephew Mark's house in Arlington, VA.  We relaxed and watched the Rangers game for a while, and then headed out to Hard Times Cafe in Clarendon.  They were having a costume contest, and Mark and his friends entered.  I'm not sure exactly why Mark's friend won first place, but here's his costume:

     Arab Lego Man?!?

After the contest ended, we headed back to our hotel to get some rest before our next big touristy day.  There was still so much left to do! 

Washington D.C. - Day One

Friday afternoon, we began our adventure to D.C.  Meezy and I had never been before, so we were pretty excited about our short get-away to visit our nation's capital.  My nephew, Mark, and his girlfriend, Sarah, were our gracious tour guides for the weekend.  They picked us up from the airport and drove us to Hotel Lombardy, so we could check in and drop off our bags.  The hotel was really nice and extremely convenient for most of the things we wanted to see around D.C.  After that, we headed over to Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy for some yummy grub.  They are known for their tater tots, that come with three dipping sauces, so we definitely had to order some.  They didn't disappoint.  With our stomachs full, we set out for our first long night of walking!

Our first stop was the Lincoln Memorial.  I've seen pictures of it numerous times, but I didn't realize how large the statue of Abraham Lincoln really is when you're up close.  I also didn't know it had a small museum attached to it.  I enjoyed reading some very profound, enduring quotes from Lincoln in the museum area.  The view from outside the memorial was amazing.  You could see the Washington Monument illuminated, with its perfect reflection shimmering in the Reflecting Pool.  Here are some pics from the first monument we visited:

From the Lincoln, we headed over to the World War II Memorial.  There was a column for each state and territory making up the United States.  There was a beautiful fountain in the middle, and a wall of stars.  It was an awesome sight to see. 

Being on the National Mall is pretty incredible, because you can see The Lincoln at one end, the Monument in the middle, and the Capitol at the other end.  It's especially cool at night, because there aren't a lot of other distractions and the illuminated Monuments really grab your attention.  We headed over to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial next.  It's a little further of a walk, but we didn't mind it.  The building is impressive as you are walking up to it, and the interior includes a large statue of Jefferson.  Some of his famous quotes are inscribed on the walls. 

By this time, it was pretty late and we were exhausted from traveling and walking!  We walked by the White House on the way back to our hotel.  It was a great first night in DC, and we knew we still had a lot in store for us!