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Friday, April 15, 2011

Two Weeks. Two weeks?? TWO WEEKS!!

Yes. That was exactly my train of thought today when I opened my calendar to put in a grant draft deadline and saw my weekly countdown for this coming Sunday. I feel like it's important that I update this at least once more before the marathon to paint a rosier picture than I have been recently. Because, contrary to what this blog may portray, I really love running. That's (partly) why I am doing this.

I've had two solid weekend runs since I last updated. One 16 miler, one 20. Minimal to no pain in my left leg. Decent pace. I felt good.

My whole goal of refocusing, remembering why I am doing this, re-prioritizing, I can't claim to be perfect or completely selfless in my endeavor, but I feel like I am finally developing some peripheral vision. TNT connects each team with an honored teammate. One of ours showed up for the start of our 20 miler last weekend. Four-year-old Zach was exactly the impetus I needed to make it through those 20 miles. This is so much bigger than me, or my goal, or my leg - this is about a whole team who has been affected by cancer in some way. Who wants to do more than just cringe and look away when faced with the horrors of life. Together we have raised over $74,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. That money goes directly to the medical care and morale of people who are battling a blood cancer and to the research that is working steadily toward a cure.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. I bought a journal with that quote on the front the year I graduated from high school, when I was living in Spokane.

The thought hits me like a ton of bricks: am I an individual? Do I thrive on thought? Or do I merely go through life as a spectator, never being bold enough to choose sides, afraid on the one hand to look like everyone else, and on the other to think like everyone else. Ultimately, to be on the wrong side.

I think journaling portrays me in an unfair light. Not to my disadvantage, but rather in support of a strength of character that in all honesty hasn't surfaced anywhere but on paper. Someday, someone's going to read my thoughts and think, "Wow, what an awesome mind - who thinks of these things?" My answer to that person is, to you if you're reading this, I'm not an awesome person, but instead a coward because I was never able to be open with humanity the way I've been open in my journal. You are capable of the same thoughts, you just don't realize your own potential until you have a pen in hand and an empty sheet of paper. I would like to add that the most original thought doesn't count unless expressed somewhere other than a hidden journal.

My noblest thoughts are no more than that, thoughts. I haven't acted on a single noble thought since I've been here. Well, I donate a few bucks a week to the United Way, but giving money is a cop-out. True giving requires more physical exertion than signing a piece of paper. I've talked about volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club but have yet to actually spend a single hour in one of the local clubs. I got close to becoming a big sister but find I can't make the year long commitment they ask for. The thought that in a year's time I may be sitting in this bed, this room, this house, this city, writing in a journal makes my outlook on life considerably bleaker than I ever thought possible. Do I really want to move home? I don't think I do . . . but I'm restless. I tried to run away from my problems knowing full well that my problems would follow me wherever I ran.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." Something made me choose this journal over the others at Boo Radley's. I really want to make a difference. Any one person who could say, "my life is better because of Kristina Hope Oldani" would make my life worth living. What changes do I wish to see in the world? That's a start. What changes do I wish to see in Spokane? A more practical one. I want people to be less skeptical of the differences between them. So that means I need to treat Amy's hick friends as I would like them to treat the minorities in the area. I want some unloved, unfulfilled child to find a skill and discover a potential buried by poverty, abuse, lack of support. That means I need to take the plunge, make the commitment to be here for a year. That also means that my own skill, however underdeveloped, needs to be realized. I think of myself as being talentless, that simply isn't true. I have something to offer. That isn't pride, it's humility. I'm going to call Big Brothers Big Sisters tomorrow. I can make it for a year. Someone needs me more than I need my mommy.

-Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

I never did become a big sister in Spokane. In fact, I'd completely forgotten I even wanted to at the time until re-reading that just now. And I've been a "big" for a little over a month now. I think some things get into your system and just fester there until the time is right for them to bloom out.

I was 19 when I wrote that. I wasn't in school. I had no community there. That was a year of me getting to know myself, work through some serious depression, and hike, hike, hike. But it's wonderful to read that now and see how far I've come. How happy I am! Jeez! I was so depressed then! And incredibly self-preoccupied. Goodness. But I was losing my faith and living alone and away from my family for the first time in my life. I was allowed. And these journals give me such an incredible bench mark by which to gage my progress in life.

I'm human. It's a relief, really. That reminder from time to time.

But these reminders come with a great deal of questioning and obsessive thought resulting in feeling wide awake at 4 o'clock in the morning when I want nothing more than to sleep.

Khalfani and I are trying to organize a screening of Invisible Children at LUMA to coincide with a Push Pin show of Ugandan art. A week ago we sat down to start discussing logistics. I ordered the dvd. When I got home from work tonight it was in my mailbox so I decided to watch it.

I now have this sense of urgency. The kind that prevents me from pursuing business as usual. I have to do something, and I have to do it yesterday.

When you become aware of the world around you, the war in Uganda that displaces thousands of children each night, the squalor and poverty right here in America, all of a sudden everything else seems so self-serving and insignificant: majoring in art history, taking a backpacking trip to Alaska, going to furniture building school. I don't begrudge Americans their comfortable lives but I also don't think I could ever be satisfied turning a blind eye. With gift comes responsibility and I've been given this gift of a sensitive soul.

-February 1st, 2008

It was always important to me to be a doer. And I wasn't one naturally. But it's as simple as a decision, turns out. And for the record, I now know, having worked in development for a few years, how untrue it was of me to say, "giving money is a cop-out." Money is usually the greatest need.

But going through this process of training for a marathon, devoting so much time and effort and working through the triumphs and disappointments, this is the experience I needed to feel like I was "doing" something. Being the change I wished to see in the world.

I don't know why I include these journal entries on my blog. I'm really not trying to toot my own horn, I just can't begin to tell you the experience of reading these things and thinking about the events in my life that have had an impact and where they've brought me today.

In two weeks I'll run the Eugene Marathon. Knowing me, I'll not sleep at all the night before and be a tired bundle of nerves at the starting line. I don't know whether or not I'll cross the finish line in under four hours. I'm trying to decide that's of little importance. I'm sure I'll cry at the finish line. I'm sure I'll think of Uncle Jeff the whole way. I'll think of Ani in Argentina, of Aunt Linda in Chicago, of Alek in Princeton, and I'll think of my own dad, who left me this message today:

Hey sweetie, I just wanted to let you know that Don Walker died yesterday. I know that's not good news. But the good news is that I love you very much and I'm looking forward to the next time I get to see you.

I'll think of how Linda, Alek and Anika won't get any messages like that from Uncle Jeff anymore. And I'll be incredibly grateful that my dad doesn't have Acute Myloid Leukemia. I'll be hopeful that the money I've raised, that my team's raised and the entire OSWIM chapter, through all its various events this year has raised will help a family just like mine. Maybe save someone else's Uncle Jeff from a shortened life.

I'll think of this card that they brought with when they came here to visit Bekah and me last summer.

Dear Rebekah, Dear Kristina,

When people asked me why we were going to Portland, I would tell them we were going to visit my beloved nieces. Then I would proceed to tell them how the two of you came to take care of us the days after Jeff died, and how you knew what to do at every turn. You both took such great care of us, you knew when to help and when to stay back - you both always knew exactly how to help. And though I know you are adults, you are both still so young and it was amazing how you were able to help the three of us through those trying days. We will always be grateful that you came to our rescue. We love you both so much, and that was also true of Uncle Jeff, who was so touched by your cards, packages and calls. He felt very close to you both.

We are so happy to visit you here at your homes in Portland, we all love being with the both of you.

Alek, Anika & Linda

If everyone had a family as wonderful as mine, they would understand this. How I'm running this marathon for them. How much I love them. How trying and horrible yet magical this past year has been.

On a lighter note:

Looking forward to (besides the obvious): Iron & Wine on May 31st; tapering; the next marathon [Portland, October 9th, 2011]; Virginia Beach in June; August (& Everything After)

Also maybe hearing this line from Rabbit Will Run at the Iron & Wine show : I've furthered the world in my wake.

There is still time to give.

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