Life Lessons: Wear a sports bra to the running store, and never trust your Asian chauffeur.

A sloth among gazelles

Last Friday, I popped into the running store to get fitted for new running shoes, as mine have officially passed that “keep your body safe” point. I strolled in, immediately intimidated by the size zero sprite pulling off her jeans and trying on running tights, and all the tall, lithe runners lounging about. I sat down with a boy who started fitting me, and almost immediately, the entire store filled up with what was apparently some sort of Friday night running club. Shit, I thought, please don’t ask me to run on the treadmill in front of all these people. WITHOUT A SPORTS BRA. “Just gonna do a quick 15 miler,” I heard one of them say to a woman who was shopping for gear, asking what everyone was doing. I lowered my head, to roll my eyes without being noticed.

So, I try on my first pair, and stand up to walk around in them…only I can’t, because the room is jammed full of Kenyan-shaped white people, stretching, being cool, you know. NBD. “Just hop up on the treadmill,” the boy helping me says. So, I comply, knowing there is no alternative. God, my poor chest. Let’s face it, they’re not exactly small. This is going to hurt physically, and socially. The boy asks me where he should set my pace, and I tell him I’m not a particularly fast runner. So, what does he set me at? 4.5. “Really?” I ask, bumping it up. And then, I run. For abooout 6 seconds. My anxiety at having to run in improper attire in front of a group of people who in reality are paying zero attention to what I’m doing gets the best of me, and I slam the treadmill off in seconds. “I’ll take them,” I say. I hop down. Just get me out of here. You guys go do your fifteen miler, I’ll go home and run 3 miles and then set up shop on the couch with a bowl of Mini Eggs. See ya at the finish line.

Dancin’ on the ceiling (or struggling in the trunk of the car).

For whatever reason, I love reading books that frighten/anger/sadden me. Mostly non-fiction, of course. You know, so I can really worry about the “what if’s” in life. Anyway, I’m currently reading a book on domestic human trafficking. Specifically, about American teenaged girls who are commercially sexually exploited, aka pimped out. So, yeah, really uplifting stuff. Sunday afternoon, I took a nap, and I had this dream where I had a new driver, a Chinese woman (yes, I have hired help in my dreams). Anyway, we were driving, and she pulled over, forced me out of the car and into the trunk. I remember thinking in the dream that she was angry, because I kept accidentally calling her “Lupita” instead of her actual name, “Patty.” This was not the case. Turns out, Patty was selling me to someone. I was being pimped by my elderly Asian driver. The car stopped, and the trunk opened. Who is standing there with her?

Lionel Richie. I was sold to the man who danced on the ceiling, and has assured each of us that we are not once, not twice, but three times a lady. Also, what the hell does that even mean? Anyway, I’m not able to remember anything after that point in the dream, but it is my sincere hope that Mr. Richie was kind enough to introduce me to the kind of luxury I believe I am entitled to. Most likely though, he locked me in a basement dungeon somewhere, forcing me to listen to “Hello” on repeat, and do his bidding.
I guess ultimately, I’m wondering what this says about me. I can usually piece together bizarre dreams, and attribute them to seeing someone on television prior to sleeping, etc. This, though? No idea. So, if anyone would like to offer up their (free) misguided attempts at dream interpretation, I will gladly accept.


Last drops.


Last Saturday was one of those perfect spring days you wait for all winter. Definitely a fluke, but one we gladly take. Warmth, light, and a sunset that makes you feel like the universe got that day just right.

A bit of gratitude.

I feel better when I write. I’m not always the most verbally articulate person when it comes to naked displays of emotion or concern, so I put pen to paper (or fingers to keys, as it were) to try to make sense of things. And I wrote about my mom’s illness yesterday, because I needed to lay it out in front of me, to take time to put my thoughts into conscious, organized words that did justice to what we’ve experienced thus far. As I expected, it released a lot of the frenetic energy that has set up shop in my spirit. What I did not expect, however, was the outpouring of love and light and good thoughts from those who read it-my family, my friends, and acquaintances whom I may not have spoken with or seen in years. So, to all of you, I extend my deepest gratitude for the kindness you have shown my family and me. It’s in these moments, that I am reminded of how connected we are to one another, as a people.

In keeping with that, I also feel the need to recognize the staff at University of Rochester Medical Center/Strong Memorial Hospital for the care that was provided to not only my mother, but to my father and me. From admission to discharge, the level of skill and care and support that was given was nothing short of exceptional. And I am not merely talking about the physicians, mid-level providers and nurses. I am also talking about the therapists, the environmental services team, nutrition staff, transport, and every other staff person we encountered during my mom’s time there, who may have offered a smile, small talk, directions, or a laugh. Strong is where I began my nursing career, and I have always been proud to have worked for such an amazing institution. Our time and experience there on the other side of things only reinforced that pride. My approach to nursing practice has always been that one should provide care for patients and their loved ones in the way they would expect themselves or their own family to be cared for, and I am infinitely grateful that my mother received that sort of care from everyone. It definitely made the difficulty of the time there a bit easier for everyone. I am always humbled by the graciousness of strangers.


“It’s cancer.”

There sat my mom, on her hospital bed, digging through that overstuffed purse of hers. After two weeks of having a hard time breathing, she was admitted to the hospital. That morning, she had a bronchoscopy, which revealed a tumor in the airway leading to her left lung. I had just walked into the room to see her, and out it comes, very first thing. “It’s bad. It’s cancer.” Like she was saying something as simple as, “It’s Monday” or “It’s so nice out.” Matter of fact. No tears, no real discernable fear, just those three words. Even though I had been steeling myself for this all morning (and really, for the past few days), it made me dizzy. In typical Patti fashion, we were being no-frills about this. “I’m just going to fight this as hard as I can, and that’s it.” Back to digging through her bag. I looked at my dad, who was looking at me, presumably trying to gauge my reaction. Nodded my head. I went into the bathroom and cried, grateful for the loud fan that was muffling the noise. It struck me as almost laughable that after quitting smoking nearly five weeks ago, this is happening now. What horrible luck. Now can’t be the time to ruminate on such things, though. My parents need as much of their stress absorbed as possible, I have three younger sibling that, while adults, I feel the need to support and guide through all this, and everything is about to get busy. And difficult. Maybe it’s the nurse in me kicking in, to help me refocus my energy from fear, to action.

I went back out, and I asked my parents if I could tell Kate when I met her in the lobby, and they agreed, so I went down to wait for her. The anxiety that surrounds having to tell someone such a horrible thing is unbearable, but I was glad to shoulder that burden for my mom, maybe it would make it a bit easier for her. I can imagine that when you’re scared and still processing information yourself, sharing it with others is probably nearly impossible.

Katie came, and I asked her to sit down. I explained the events of the past few days, and told her that our mother had lung cancer. She stared for a minute, and then began to cry into her hands, her tears sneaking through her fingers and dripping onto her pant legs. In that moment, my heart hurt, because I saw her as she was at nine or ten, not as she is now. We went together back to my mother’s room, and I think being able to see her, and see what great spirits she was in made her feel better. The four of us had a good afternoon together. My dad stayed the night at my house, and all night I slept fitfully, constantly listening for his horrible snoring, to know that he was actually asleep, and not up worrying.

My mom is back home now, and despite the addition of oxygen, is getting back to her regular routine. She will find out next week where she’s at in terms of staging, and her treatment options. It’s difficult to wait, but there’s also an odd comfort in at least knowing why she hasn’t felt well. I’m not sure what the road ahead will look like, but I do know that this illness has one hell of a fight to come up against, in my mother and the medical team she has in her corner.

And if you could offer up a kind thought, good energy, a prayer, whatever it is in your heart, it would be greatly appreciated.


The art of István Sándorfi.

My father and I were talking about art today, and he showed me this video of the work of the late artist István Sándorfi. Maybe I’ve been foolishly in the dark about his art, but I was completely captivated by what I saw. The raw, yet surreal way he captured the female body in particular communicated so much to me about the way that not only society, but we as women, see ourselves. I saw resiliency, torment, invisibility, beauty, and the unfinished stories of who we are. It’s beautiful and sad and I want to cover every inch of my space with it.