Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thank you… for everything.

I have two sisters, both younger than I am. I am the oldest, most attractive, most intelligent, and most superlative son of the three of us. There are no other sons so there is very little competition in that regard which works out well for me if I do say so myself.

This isn’t about me really, but it’s going to start out that way just bear with me OK? I was book smart. I skipped second grade (Not a good idea by the way in my opinion. These days they don’t fail people because socially it’d be a bad idea… Yeah, I sort of wish they had thought that when I was skipped. I was socially way out of my league and it took me a while to not feel out of sorts, but that’s not the point.) The point is school stuff came really easy to me. I thought it came easy to everybody. I remember a conversation in High School with my Mom where I was saying that everybody should be required to take Algebra. I’d probably just heard Jubal Harshaw say it. I was easily impressed. (Moment of silence for The Grand Master please…) I know now that I was an idiot. But it was something that I thought was a gift, only instead of being grateful for it or humble for having received it, or recognizing it may have a downside. I was an elitist ass. I eventually grew out of that, but in the meantime my sister Leigh got to bear the brunt of the annoying part about my being book smart.

The thing with being a kid is that the metrics used for a REALLY long time are metrics like… school work or grades. An area in which I did pretty OK with very little effort (with the exception of math which my grade skipping didn’t help me on at all). Later, we’re skipping a lot of years here, I went to college and hit a wall. There were a LOT of people around me as casually intelligent as I was, and the spoon feeding of the high-school classes wasn’t cutting it. Suddenly school was hard. My sister meanwhile, graduated high school early, by working hard, studying hard, and applying herself. She didn’t skate through it. She worked at it. And finished early.

I was in college and needed to study for the first time ever. I didn’t have a clue how. I’d never needed to before. I failed a class. No kidding. Failed it bigger than life. The one thing I’d always done OK in without really trying was something I was screwing up and had failed at. So. I took the class again and had the highest average in the class (I have jokingly said that I beat an Asian girl in math as my highest achievement but I feel bad because when she saw she was second in class she cried. I pointed out I had the advantage of having taken the class before but it didn’t seem to help.) I worked hard on it that year. I learned to study and I studied and it wasn’t easy. I did, for one semester, in one class what my sister had done for longer and I hated it. I liked the class. I didn’t like that I had to work at it.

So I quit. I dropped out of college and entered the Navy as a Nuke. Supposedly you have to be smart to be a Nuke. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I met people in there in the school who hated me, got so mad at me that they couldn’t stand it or even talk to me because again… I was getting it and they weren’t. Only now I knew how to study so I wasn’t just getting it and getting by. I was doing really well. I wish I’d learned to study sooner. I’d have done better when I was in high school.

My sister DID study. She worked and got done with High School ahead of schedule and joined the Marines… holy crap! I’d talked to the Marine recruiter, but as soon as he said how long his boot camp was I was done. No chance in hell of me surviving a 12 week boot camp. She did it though. I had joined the Navy and started running before I went in to get into better shape. I’d run and do push-ups and sit-ups and whatever else I thought I’d need to get through the 8 weeks of Navy boot camp. She’d done it harder though… again.

I never told her in all that time how proud I was of her for what she’d done. I got skipped in 2nd grade. I didn’t do anything to deserve that except know how to read. She’d taken time off the back end of her education… the hard years, and she’d earned it. She’d set a goal and done it, the hard way. Then she’d joined the Marines and did that too. I bragged about her to everybody who would listen. She wasn’t “in the service.” She was a MARINE. That’s not like other branches. I don’t care what branch you’re in… Marines are tougher. (OK. Navy Seals are excluded here, they eat Marines for breakfast with milk and sugar sprinkled over them. lol)

Skip forward again… she’s married with a son with a great house, she knits, she paints, she bakes and cooks and is, as far as I can see… working her butt off to be a great Mom to her son. When her husband (a Marine she met while she was a Marine) was going to be called-up and deployed and she was going to be on her own she took care of business, and didn’t fall apart or anything like that. She put on her butt kicking boots and took care of things.

When I heard she was going to do a running program called Couch to 5k I thought I’d give it a look. And I did. In management I’ve often told people I’m a sprinter, not a marathon runner. I can do anything for two weeks. No job is too hard that I can’t do it for two weeks. Need me to run 8 stores while I open a new one and train an entire crew and put in 20 hour days? No problem… two weeks, maybe three but then I’m going to need to crash.

In job negotiations with the new owner of the company I work for I didn’t talk about salary or compensation or his expectations. He talked about all that. I talked about time off and needing it. I know my limits. I learned early on that I’m BAD at working on something long term. It’s a limitation I have and I know it. This Couch to 5k thing… that’s a 9 week course… self started… got to get myself up off the couch of DOOM and do it myself. I have never done anything myself for that length of time. I said that if she could do all those things she’d done then surely I’d be able to do them. Once in my life I should, before it was too late, live up to the standards my sister had set for herself and surpassed over and over again in my estimation.

Last week I finished the 9 week running program in 12 weeks. I finished it because my sister who I’ve never told how proud I was of her was my inspiration. Not her finishing it. I don’t know if she has or not yet. She has no twitter feed *hint*hint*. But because of the way she’s lived her life. She’s, to my eyes, worked hard to make sure that she lives it fully. There’s an expression in racing that you run so you leave everything on the track. When you finish a race there’s nothing left in you as you cross the finish line. You couldn’t run any further because you’ve run it and run it your best and hardest without burning out too soon or crossing the finish line with any reserves meaning you didn’t run hard enough. To me she’s running the race of life that way. She doesn’t appear to be coasting through life just waiting for things to happen and I respect that and appreciate it and love her for it.

Thank you Leigh, for introducing me to the C25k and thank you for being someone I wish I were more like. You make me proud to say you’re my sister.
(This is a double blog post… if you see it on and my SimpleRunner blog in your newsreader it’s not stuttering. I am. She’s worth a double post to me.)

(PS: To those of you who say I’m romanticizing things and no brother sister is this lovey dovey… lol you’re right. We weren’t. I was an ass and she was too… but we were kids. We’re allowed. We both grew out of it and turned into decent people.)
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