Thursday, December 30, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
What a treat! My mom agreed to write a guest post on her personal experience with lymphoma, and right on my birthday too! Read, enjoy, laugh, cry and if you feel moved to make a personal donation to blood cancer research, just click right here. - SM
I was blessed. My lymphoma responded well to chemo and monoclonal antibodies. I was given the time I needed. Sarah is out of the oven now and an extraordinary young woman.
Thank you to everyone supporting Sarah’s Canyonlands Half Marathon to raise money for blood cancers! Sarah is blessed with so many extraordinary friends. Thanks to all of you for being there with her on her journey.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
My mom wrote last week to ask what I want for birthday (December 5th). When I read her email, here's the picture that came immediately to mind:
What's that? It's the three-fourths of my Bangkok shipment that has never been unpacked! Yup, it's gathering dust in the basement because there's no room for all my junk in the tiny house I share with a roommate.
Frankly, the idea of adding any more material possessions to the mix over the upcoming holidays makes my head explode. In fact, I'm contemplating a serious trip to Goodwill to thin out my stuff.
The good news: there's an awesome birthday (and Christmas!) present you can give that will not only put a smile on my face, but will go to help a great cause -- a donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
As many of you know, I'm running the Canyonlands Half Marathon on March 19, 2011 to honor my mom, who is a 10-year survivor of lymphoma (see post below for more details). Your gift will help me reach my goal of raising $4500 for blood cancer research and programs.
Yesterday I told a friend of mine (someone who just loves giving presents) that I only wanted a donation for my birthday. "But that's kind of boring!" she said. "Can't I get you something fun?"
My reply -- there's nothing better you could give me! Because of advances in blood cancer research and treatment made possible by donations like yours, I have the greatest thing in the world -- my mom!
I truly believe that when you donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, you're helping give someone back a mom, a dad, a child, a brother, sister, friend or partner. In fact, seventy-six cents of every dollar you donate goes directly to research or patient programs.
Do you know someone whose life has been touched by blood cancer? Instead of a tie or another kitchen gadget, consider making a donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in their honor. That's a heartwarming gift that shows how much you care.
To sum up my plea: Instead of adding to the overflow of stuff at the Maurer-Keller house, please consider clicking here and making a donation to The Leukemia Lymphoma Society.
There's a $25 minimum to donate online with a credit card. If you'd like to make a smaller donation (and every single dollar is appreciated!), or if you simply prefer to donate by check, write your check to "The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society" and mail it to:
Sarah Maurer(Email me for Address)
To ensure I meet my fundraising deadlines, please donate TODAY. No need to wait til Christmas.
So now you can cross one gift off your holiday shopping list. Unless, of course, you can catch and deliver James Franco to my doorstep. (Run James! Run far. Run fast =)
Monday, November 15, 2010
I'm writing to invite you to join a cause close to my heart -- the fight against leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers. As you may know, my mom Kathie was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2001. Though her cancer was quite advanced at diagnosis, she is alive today because of an amazing treatment called monoclonal antibodies. She's now been in remission for almost 10 years, and I swear she's healthier than I am!
As late as the 1950s, blood cancer was 100 percent fatal. Today, 89 percent of children with leukemia and 96 percent of people with Hodgkin's disease will live, thanks to research funded by organizations like The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Like me, you've probably experienced a friend's or loved one's cancer. Did you know that when you help to fund blood cancer research, all cancer patients benefit? Research sponsored by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has been the catalyst for the effective treatment of breast and lung cancer, among others.
While treatment has come a long way, nearly a million people are still battling blood cancer today. Every 10 minutes, an adult or child dies of blood cancer, and leukemia still causes more deaths to children under 20 than any other cancer.
With accelerated funding through generous donations like yours, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society predicts that we can make all blood cancers curable by 2015.
To raise money for blood cancer research, I've pledged to run the Canyonlands Half-Marathon (13 miles in the blazing Utah desert) through a program you may have heard of -- Team In Training.
Team In Training is a fundraising program which benefits The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Each year, they train over 40,000 runners, walkers, cyclists, triathletes, hikers and snowshoers to race at events around the world. The group has excellent coaches who provide a daily training schedule, advise on gear and nutrition, organize group runs, offer track workouts and keep our motivation level up with regular communication.
In return, I have pledged to raise money to help fund research and support for blood cancer patients and their families. My goal is $4500. It's a big challenge, but not nearly as big as the challenges these patients face every day.
I've just returned from our Team In Training kick-off party in Denver, where I met our team hero, Kimberly. She was 27 years old -- and 28 weeks pregnant -- when she was diagnosed with leukemia. After a successful course of treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., she ran her first half marathon in 2010. This season, she'll be up and training with us every Saturday morning at 7:45 a.m.
I would greatly appreciate your donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Over 75 percent of your donation goes directly to research and patient programs.
As a thoughtful and heartwarming holiday gift, consider donating in the name of a friend or loved one.
There are two ways you can donate:
1. Credit card: Visit my personal Team in Training fundraising page. All donations are private, secure and 100 percent tax deductible.
2. Check: Make checks payable to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Mail the check with the enclosed form to Sarah Maurer at (e-mail me for address).
Please also keep in mind that many corporations have matching programs and will match any donation you provide. It's an easy way to double your contribution!
Thank you in advance for your consideration in supporting this effort. Feel free to contact me for more info, or visit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at lls.org.
TAX ID # 135644916
P.S.: While I will gladly accept donations through March, your early support will help me to meet my fundraising deadlines -- the first of which falls in December. So your donation TODAY will help raise even more money to fight blood cancer!
Monday, September 13, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Well hello there, Thailand-for-Obama 2008 T-shirt! It was so much fun watching the debates and the inauguration at the Road House.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
By the way, Wisconsin (and lots of the upper Midwest) was still recovering from a massive flood when I visited. In Whitewater, they actually had seven inches of rain in an hour! You rarely get that much in a bonafide tropical rain forest. Here's what's left of the boat slip outside the Buckhorn. According to our waitress, the water is still "a foot or two" above normal.
Supper Club is such a tradition in Wisconsin, that Capital Brewery in Whitewater makes Supper Club Beer. Yup, we tried it and it was light and refreshing, perfect for summer!
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
A sampling of my learnings for August 4, 2010:
* If you freeze any genetic material (eggs, sperm), make sure you make provisions for it in your will. Otherwise, when you have another heir born twenty years after your death, your kids will be really salty over having to split the trust fund again.
* The Gulf oil spill is a wondrous feat of nature. Seriously. There are bacteria living in the ocean that EAT oil, and they are all happy and fat now because while oil constantly seeps out of the ocean floor, this latest gusher is like ten Four Seasons Jakarta buffets to them. If the bacteria are happy, we should be happy for them. Maybe we should even have MORE oil spills (Words fail me).
* Pray about everything. Pray about money. Pray for America's deliverance. Even pray for dead people.
* While we're on a religious note, environmentalism is the enemy. All good Christians must resist The Green Dragon (snerk).
* 8/28 should be a day of fasting to honor Glenn Beck.
* Rush Limbaugh has a new Facebook page where he'll post pictures of his Old English sheepdogs. And his new wife. Yes, in that order.
* Speaking of Rush, guess who performed at his wedding? Elton John! Either Elton's hard up for cash or has a wicked sense of humor.
Really. You can't make-up stuff this craptastic.
Gary seems like the kind of place you could find Mad Max, The Terminator and Oliver Twist all living on the same street, but in reality, Gary's most famous native son is Michael Jackson. When I stopped at the Indiana Welcome Center, I looked around for brochures about The Michael Jackson Historic Homestead or, failing that, the Haunted Gary Toxic Waste Cruise. I really wanted an excuse, I realized, to commune with this city that had so captured my imagination. Alas, there were no tourist attractions at the Gary exit, and I can only conclude that it's the type of place where, like East Cleveland, you can't slow down or you'll die.
True to form, Gary was plagued with construction and traffic, which finally bogged down in the giant morass of Chicago. The sun was shining for once, turning the air a shimmery green. I bet Gary has great sunsets, but after driving through it a time or two, you couldn't pay me to eat a single fish from Lake Michigan. Hell, you couldn't pay me to eat a single particle of plankton.
I should mention that this is possibly the most half assed piece of travel I have ever executed, right up there with getting bored and going to Jakarta airport with a duffle bag to see if they had tickets left to anywhere kewl. (Repeat after me: the airport is not a bus station). Anyhoo, I have waited until the last possible moment to nail down my departure dates, and I'm still not sure the owner of one of the couches I plan to crash on knows I'm coming. The temporary plates on my new Honda are due to expire en route and when I arrive in Estes Park (on Saturday, Sunday or possibly Tuesday), I will crash with Kelly and Phil for somewhere between one and three weeks.
But I must say, after six years of highly regimented living, it feels kinda neat. And since my friends haven't seen me for years, hopefully they'll have mercy when I show up unannounced (or three days later than announced) at their door. Being the flaky friend from far off lands does have its moments, though I promise I really do not milk them. Too much.
A very loose itinerary (almost laugh as that word):
Thursday -- Get up, do laundry, pack and load card (as procrastinating too much to do it tonight). Attempt to depart at 10:00 am. Drive through Chicago madness to Whitewater, WI and stay with I-House friend Kevin, who is study abroad advisor at the college.
Friday -- Drive to St. Cloud, Minnesota to stay with Julie and new husband Shaun. Actually, he is 2-year old husband, but still new to me, kind of like the Honda, as I've only met him once. I hope they got the email that says I'm coming to see them. Fortunately, they live on a tiny college campus, so confident I can locate using elementary stalking techniques.
Saturday -- Going to South Dakota! Not sure why this is so exciting, as by all indications is another vast, empty state like Nebraska or Kansas. Relatives of mine were Lakota Sioux, so bet I will just feel at home there, like I'm in a biergaarten in Munich chugging Hefeweizen with all the other Maurers and Schwartzes. No friends in SD, so will probably just check in to a No-Tell Motel and attempt to sneak the cat in.
Sunday -- Inshallah, Estes Park, CO. Seems close to the Dakotas. Easy peasy driving day.
Still amazed at how little prep required to travel in the States. No visa, no passport. Every state is like visa on arrival, only don't need to stand in line for it or leave every six months to keep it. Brilliant concept.
Friday, July 9, 2010
To everyone else, it's the year 2010 in America. To me, American time stops abruptly on August 1, 2004 when I boarded a plane for Shanghai and passed into a parallel universe for six years. This time warp is one of a million things that makes moving back home so bewildering. When I came back here, I subconsciously expected everything to be the same, but alas time marches on (even if does march a bit slower here in Cleveland).
If I seem a bit out-of-it, consider that in 2004:
- Bush was still sitting on his stolen throne, searching high and low for his weapons of mass-destruction. For me, there's been no temporarily-validating second term.
- Al Gore and John Edwards were worshipped as men of the highest character. I was crushing severely on both of them. Oh, how the mighty do fall.
- The only cell phone I used back then was an ancient Nokia roughly the size of a footlong Subway sandwich, and only then when on call for work. The iPhone was still three years away.
- We were all still waiting impatiently for the fifth Harry Potter book. Twilight and its ilk were yet unborn.
- A relative of mine whose car had been recently repossessed wowed the family when she obtained a mortgage to buy a house--sans downpayment.
- No one had ever heard of Sarah Palin or Barack O'Bama or Miley Cyrus.
- There had never been a Hurricane Katrina, a Boxing Day Tsunami, a Virginia Tech Massacre or a Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
- Gas prices in Cleveland were $1.69 per gallon.
- Saddam Hussain, Yasser Arafat, Christopher Reeve, Steve Irwin, Kenneth Lay, Peter Jennings, Anna Nicole Smith, Boris Yeltsin, Jerry Falwell, Benazir Bhutto, Charlton Heston, Dith Pran (of The Killing Fields fame), Heath Ledger, Sir Edmund Hillary, Patrick Swayze, Michael Jackson and Dennis Hopper were alive and well.
- Pluto was still a planet.
So you can see that's a load of cognitive dissonance to deal with. Don't worry, I'll get around to processing it all one of these days. Except for Pluto, which will always be a planet to me.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
"Take your cat out of the carrier."
I blink at the large woman on the far side of baggage x-ray as if she's just spoken Kyrgyz. The cat in question is not, to put it mildly, a happy camper. He hasn't eaten, drunk, or peed since we left Bangkok nearly twenty-four hours ago. He's just spent the transpacific flight from Narita to O'Hare wedged under a "B" seat, watching my Crocs fight a losing battle with the invading sneakers of the snoring Japanese teenager in the "C" seat (as if the greedy bugger didn't have a whole damn aisle to flop around in). We've spent the past forty-five minutes shuffling through a security line that bears a more-than-passing resemblance to a Soviet-style bread line, but without even the dim satisfaction of a treat at the end. The cat is teetering on the tweaking point--and so am I.
The thick redhead in her khaki TSA uniform (JANELLE shouts her name tag) repeats her command, this time louder. JANELLE has no way of knowing the truth: she's dealing with a cat that even under far less-trying circumstances often manifests what my friend Lindy has dubbed "feline autism." I cringed when she first blurted that out; I've met plenty of brilliant, intriguing and assuredly nonviolent people with autism. If I had to make a diagnosis in this case, I'd go with something that puts people in prison, like antisocial personality disorder. This cat is plain psycho.
"Can't I just take the carrier through?" I ask. JANELLE answers me with a grunt. People behind us are starting to grumble. Unclaimed laptops and diaper bags are piling themselves into an unstable Mt. Everest at the far end of the x-ray machine.
With a sigh, I reach to unzip the carrier. At the two Asian airports I've passed through, BKK and Narita, security let me carry the cat through the metal detector carrier and all. Buddhist airport personnel are in fact refreshingly pet friendly, meowing at the little menace and making kissy faces at him through the mesh. At Thai immigration, a smiling security guard appeared with a wheelchair to push the cat and and his unwieldy carrier to the gate. Antisocial cat valet. Now fed up JANELLE is whispering to the lanky youth behind the x-ray machine (DEZMOND) while casting a toxic glare in my direction. If she's ever made a kissy face, I'm kind of glad I missed it.
As I reach inside the carrier, I can almost hear the metallic ping of the cat's claws whizzing out of his toes like switchblades. "Here kitty, kitty," I say, as if about to lift one of those sweet, golden balls of purring love that some people are lucky enough to end up with when they rescue an orphaned kitten from a truck stop, just like I did. The cat's name, I should mention, is Durian. For those who haven't had the pleasure of walking into a Southeast Asian supermarket, a durian is a giant citrus fruit that resembles a spiky, green bowling ball and smells like rotting flesh. I actually know a woman who knocked a durian on her flip-flop-clad foot in one such grocery store and had to get stitches. The cat's name ain't Durian for nothing.
I grasp Durian the Terrible in both hands, grit my teeth and tug. His claws are sunk so deep in the carrier that it rises off the belt with him still inside. JANELLE and DEZMOND lean in to watch the action, but don't bother holding the carrier to assist me. Part of me resents this, and another part thinks, they aren't stupid. Wrestling the beast into a one-armed sleeper hold, I pick his claws out of the mesh with my free hand. The whinging behind me intensifies. One insensitive gorilla shoves past and helps himself to a trip through the metal detector.
When I finally manage to separate psycho cat from the carrier, he immediately claws his way up my arm as if I'm a human tree. In a stunning feat of flexibility, I swing one arm over my shoulder and the other behind my back and manage to pin the little prison breaker to the back of my head with both hands. I stand there contorted like the liquid metal Terminator after Linda Hamilton blasted through its torso at point blank range. Duri hisses. His claws are deep enough in me to puncture a kidney, possibly a lung.
JANELLE regards me straining, practically tied in a knot, without a glimmer of empathy. She wears the look of someone who has seen worse. Much worse. "Go back and send the carrier through," she snaps.
Panic mounting, I ease the less twisted of my arms down to conveyor belt level and snag the carrier with my pinky. The crowd has given up waiting; people are now streaming past, bumping me as they break for the metal detector. The best thing I can imagine would be for Durian to jump off of my back and land on one of them. Although then I'd probably get sued. This is America, after all. A place I've been gone from for six-years and to which I am today making my first visit of indefinite length since our ill-fated hunt for Iraqi weapons of mass-destruction.
I hate it here already.
I sling the carrier on the belt and somehow manage to manhandle Duri back onto the front of me. He huddles there with every muscle tensed and his front claws sunk in the exposed base of my throat. I must be going into shock, as I no longer feel the pain. We've now officially lost our place in the line. People march past, willfully ignoring bloody girl and psycho cat. Finally, a woman is kind enough to stop and let us go next through the metal detector. Duri thanks her by laying his ears flat and hissing.
"Oops," says the man in front of us, as the machine lets out an unholy beep. "Forgot my keys." He walks back, hands the keys to GEORGE, tries again. Beep. He shambles back for a third try. I ponder America and its aggravating individualism while this bonehead digs unhurriedly in his pockets for change and Durian fights his way onto my shoulder. If the damn thing beeps when I go through, I swear I'm doing a runner.
Finally, I clear the detector. On the far side of the conveyor belt, Duri's carrier hits the mountain of laptops and diaper bags and slides to the floor. I sink beside it and dump him in, then hold his thrusting head as I zip. Then I sling the carrier over my shoulder and stand there nearly crying with relief as the cloud of cat hair settles around me and blood beads on my throat and shoulder. Somehow I doubt anyone is coming with a wheelchair this time.
As I head for my gate, a man (clearly less individualized than these other wretched Americans) approaches. If this were Asia, he'd ask "Are you OK?" and walk beside me to the first aid station. He'd even offer to lug the cat carrier.
"I gotta tell ya," he says grinning. "That was the funniest thing I've seen all week."
Send me home to Bangkok. Send me home NOW.