Saturday, June 30, 2012

Swimming Trials

I am still a swimmer. I had to quit my competitive team in eighth grade when I was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopothy and I never got back on a team for any extended period, but I am still in the water thirty hours per week and enjoy thinking about, discussing, watching, and performing the activity. Something as important as swimming you don't just give up because of a little heart failure.

I have been watching the United States Swimming Olympic Trials all week. They are just fantastic. They really bring out the swimmer in me. It almost makes me want to get in the pool and swim my guts out. It is just so cool and inspiring. This is my favorite swim meet in the world.
Here is the list of my top three favorite swim meets:
  1. The Trials
  2. The Olympics
  3. The Dual in the Pool 
The Olympics have drama, but the trials have real intensity. The Olympics is raw patriotism, but the Trials are raw athleticism. The Olympics have the some scattered outstanding moments (Jason Lezak in the 2008 4x100m relay), but every moment of trials is a race. No American swimmer would intentionally peak for The Olympics. They have to make The Olympics first and Trials is the fastest swim meet in the world. The reason that swimming only sends two athletes per country instead of the normal three is that America is too fast. Every year we would completely demolish all the other countries and sweep most events. Then they changed the rules in 1980 so the United States could only win two-thirds of the medals. This is why I love Trials: it is more pure swimming. Everything is just ridiculously quick.

My athlete of choice to cheer on this Trials is Ryan Lochte. Not only is he fantastically handsome (just look at him) and perfectly athletic, but he also has a kind and generous personality. He's done really well so far and I think he completely deserves it.

When I was sick Ryan Lochte sent me a card. He was not alone. I got quite a few cards (thanks!), but I got only one card from a celebrity. I must have shown every nurse in Childrens Hospital the get well note he sent me with the picture and signature. Most people just nodded and smiled because at the time he was such a minor Olympian, outshined by Michael Phelps, but now I will be able to say Ryan Lochte and a couple non-swimmers might know who I mean. I will always know, though, that Ryan is actually a decent guy, not just a good backstroker.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Roberts Family Reunion

I went home for the weekend this last weekend for a very special event. My family has a reunion every single year. No matter the weather or health or the economy or whatever else everyone has going on in their lives I get to see not only my immediate family, but all of my first and second cousins annually at Canoe Island Lodge in Lake George, New York. It is just completely mandatory. Every time I think about it I just find myself repeating, "how many people are really, legitimately friends with their second cousins?" I am. This particular photo is my brother and aunt, but it could just as easily be my great uncle or second cousin once removed. I know and am close to them all.

I have had a couple issues in my life, but all in all I am extremely lucky because I have family. Not just my parents, but my whole family. They love, support, grok, and accept me through anything. I stayed in my great uncle's house when I was recovering. My cousin, aunt, and brother came and took care of me for a while. Everybody reads the blog. Every time we are together I get hit with new waves of understanding and caring. You can choose friends, but you can't choose family so I am glad I was assigned a great one.

The family reunion is one of my favorite weekends of the year. We have so much fun. There are card games and sailboat rides. There are fireside chats and porch parties. We laugh so hard we cry at least once a year. I get to be reunited with my favorite person on the face of the Earth (my cousin Sam). It is just one whirlwind of entertainment. The event has grown with the family and it remains a living and evolving soiree, but it has always included cherishing, reuniting, and adoration. 

Thank you to Uncle Tom for another great time and a fantastic support system. There is no one like family.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer 2012

This blog post is brought to you by the Shaw's Market parking lot. I imagined it up while standing there, looking at all the miserable people around me. I grinned when the thought popped into my head.

In the sixth grade, at the awful age of twelve the state of New York told me I was disabled. A nice lady followed me around for a day and watched me sit in the front of class every period. She watched me pile my books up high on my desk so that my papers would be close to my face. She tested me during the time I was supposed to be learning the Spanish alphabet. It meant little then and it means little now. Yet even before my heart failed, I stopped growing, and I started taking poison daily I had a license by the State of New York to always be just a little bit helpless.

I never noticed it, but I internalized that lesson at some point. It might not have been until later. High school maybe. At some point, though, I set just a slightly lower mark for myself in terms of ability in life skills. I never learned to vacuum. I don't drive. I can't open a bottle. I can't really clean at all. I never thought I was stupid, untalented, or anything less than fierce, but I never imagined I could really be normal either.

This summer I have been the most normal I could have ever imagined. I realized suddenly, when I was getting my groceries for the week I was surprising myself. Not even a month ago had you told me that I would be doing groceries, dishes, laundry, going to work, dealing with my meds, coooking, and simply taking care of all my own stuff I would have been in disbelief. This all brings me a kind of sustained joy. It pleases me somehow to feel a little bit independent. It's simply liberating.