Archive for May, 2009

Room view

Room view

Last week my marriage turned 25, which caused me to take a whole new perspective on the world. A 48th-story kind of perspective. And there’s a long (not just high) story behind this, or at least a long-ago story.

It’s like this. My honeymoon was partly wonderful (as they often are), partly functional (because we drove down the west coast, from Seattle to L.A. to move JoAnn south), and partly memorable for the occasional bad moment. In particular, I’m referring to a rather poor choice of a place to stay in San Francisco.

In one of my worst decisions as a then-new husband, I had not arranged a place to stay in San Francisco before we got there. My thinking may have been that there are a lot of hotels to choose from, so we can easily pick something when we get there. That wouldn’t have been so bad, but the actual picking was where the trouble occurred. On arrival, we went to a reasonably nice hotel and one of us decided it was too expensive, and so we ended up at a different place that was much cheaper in all possible respects. (Exercise for the reader: see if you can find the multiple big mistakes made in that previous sentence.)

Well, my story now is creatively expressed as follows: I took all the money we saved from that one questionable decision of mine, invested it wisely, and 25 years later decided to spend it on a wild attempt to make up for that mistake, by picking a hotel room that would be the exact opposite of that first one. And so we ended up on the 48th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which is as high as you can get in that place unless you are in charge of the two flags on the roof.

I decided that since I was staying in this place, one of the top-ranked hotels in SF, I should pretend to be rich. But I wasn’t particularly good at this. For example, I thought we would just take taxis or limousines anywhere we wanted to go. However, we generally preferred walking around, and I overdid this one morning by deciding to walk to breakfast at the South Beach Cafe. I chose this primarily because it has a cool website, the obvious reason to choose a place to eat. But it was a bit of a hike, maybe a couple miles, not JoAnn’s idea of ducking out to the cafe around the corner. After recovering, we actually took the light rail back (a whopping $1.50 each).

One of the highlights of the hotel was Bellman Tom, who learned our name by reading the luggage tags on while unloading the taxi from the airport, and he never forgot it. That’s why we had to direct most of our pretend-to-be-rich tipping toward him, probably totalling up to almost as much as I spent on that hotel room 25 years ago. Because of him, we also rode the F-Line for another $1.50 each. That one went up the piers, and was nice — even quaint.

Looking Down

Looking Down

A few lessons from the almost top-of-the-world.

  • Your ears normally pop multiple times when going between ground floor and the 48th floor.
  • When it’s really windy, you can feel the building swaying.
  • If you do it right, you can learn to look down on the rest of the world. For example, Question: Why don’t we stay in the Hyatt Regency? Answer: It’s only about 20 stories high.

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After the 800m

After the 2005 800m run

My kids have taught me something important about myself that I never knew: I apparently have some dazzling distance running genes that unfortunately have stayed well hidden throughout my life. Or maybe it comes from JoAnn, who knows. In any case, Brian enjoyed a successful high school running career in the 800 and 1600 meters. He broke a 30-something year old Bellevue High School 800m record, registering a 1:53.34. At right he’s looking up in the stands after the 800m district race in 2005, to find that he’s finally broken the school record.

And now Michael, a junior, is following in his brother’s footsteps and at times running right past those footsteps. A week ago he drove himself over the finish line in the 1600m in 4:23.7. That’s a promising time, showing potential to get to the seriously good levels. But more important, it’s about 2 seconds faster than Brian’s best time, giving Michael first place in the family at that distance.

michael at BHS 1600

Michael gutting it out in the 1600

Brian still holds the 800m mark, although Michael is putting pressure on that also. On Saturday, on a cool and rainy evening, he ran in an invitational meet against a strong field, crossing the finish at 1:57.03. Less than 4 seconds from the school mark held by Brian, and about a half-second faster than Brian ran during his junior year.

Brian continues to simultaneously root for and against his brother when he gets a chance to attend one of the meets. As for me, I’ll just have to keep looking for that latent speed that’s lurking somewhere deep inside.

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