Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Morning Battle of the Bathtub

It's a daily battle, something I now consider a challenge when I rise and prepare to attack the day. There have been small victories, there have been numerous defeats, and with each win or loss, I'm hoping, comes a valuable learning experience.

I've been back living in Europe now for over two weeks, and my hybrid bathtub/shower continues to be an enigma to me. The rather oddly-shaped acrylic tub of terror looms large each morning as I sit and eat breakfast, fearing another failed attempt of making it through with both myself and the bathroom emerging unscathed. 

Climbing in and out of the 3-foot tall structure has to be done with caution, as one misstep or a wet portion of the tub or bathroom floor could result in a stumble or tumble and cause my bathroom prowess and confidence to continue to crumble. 

Like anyone with an athlete's or competitive mentality, you measure success in wins and losses. If that's the case, I'm working at about a .500 clip right now. That's maybe good enough to win the NFC East, but not a great way to start your day.

I have so many questions that still need to be answered, chief among them: 

Where do you put the shower head while you apply shampoo and soap? I've resorted to pinning it between my legs so it won't flop around on the floor of the tub like a runaway firehose. That just doesn't feel natural, especially in the couple of instances where the water pressure forced the shower head to flip and shoot hot water up my ... well you get the point. And the whole holding the shower head while trying to apply shampoo with one hand thing hasn't worked well, either. 

How do I keep the water IN the tub, and not all over the bathroom? I've gotten much better, but early on there were several instances where it looked like a rainstorm had blown through my bathroom. I keep reminding myself, while rinsing off, caution needs to be taken to ensure the water is pointed towards the wall so I'm not hosing down the bathroom. A wet bathroom floor is a treacherous bathroom floor, so I have discovered.

I know women here generally lay in the tub, or simply take a bath. Problem solved. But I'm not a bath kind of person, and I'm not sure how many men are. It's been suggested that I can go to IKEA, where I can find something to mount the shower head with, and find a curved shower rod and curtain. Is that acceptable? Or would it just drum up more bad cleansing karma, taking the easy way out?

Still so many questions, and the pursuit of answers and victory in the battle of the bathtub will wage on. Enjoy your standing showers, people. Enjoy mounted shower heads, dry floors, and confident strides into and out of your showers. I will win this battle, and rejoin you all in your baƱo bliss!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Running With Uncle Chris

My Nikes I inherited when Uncle Chris passed away
have been on runs all over the world. No better way to
honor someone who enjoyed his jogs like he did. 
Many of you who read this blog knew my Uncle Chris. One of the five Kamide brothers who grew up in Carthage, N.Y., he served with the Army in the war in the middle east, worked as a school teacher and a school board member, spent years as a high school and collegiate basketball referee, and above all else, was a great father to my cousins, Chris, Gabbi and Alyssa.

Uncle Chris and I shared a number of similarities. Like each of my uncles on both sides of my family, we shared a passion for sports. He enjoyed watching Syracuse football and hoops, his Dolphins, grew up a baseball fan, and jumped on the lacrosse bandwagon when his kids advanced on to play at the high school and collegiate levels.

Everyone said we looked a lot alike, we both - like my cousin Nate - battled Crohn's Disease, and both of us enjoyed going for a recreational run to keep in shape and get our mind off the daily grind and stress we had in our lives.

When Uncle Chris passed away in April 2013, it hit our family pretty hard. He was only 48-years-old, with young children who had yet to hit the prime of their lives. He had so much to offer this world, and for nearly five decades, he had done so with a big smile on his face and an energy and passion for life that I always noticed whenever I was around him. Just a couple years earlier, he had run in a marathon in Las Vegas to fundraise for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, and I had helped organize a fundraiser here in Northern Virginia for his cause. 

A few of his personal belongings were passed to members of the family, and since he and I had the same shoe size, I was given a pair of essentially brand new Nike running shoes of his. This, I told myself, couldn't be a more perfect opportunity for me to honor my uncle. I have had the opportunity via baseball to do a lot of traveling, and in the 28 months since his passing, have taken those running shoes with me to all parts of the country and to Europe for runs. I've worn his shoes for jogs here in Virginia, in upstate New York, in New York City, in South Carolina, in Georgia, and in Europe in Hungary, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. 

I don't know the exact mileage, but it's well over 200 miles I've run in Uncle Chris' shoes. Every time I tie the shoes before heading out for my run, I think of him. And I think of my cousins, who are without their father. Something I could not comprehend. 

And then there is the irony of the shoes being Nike. My grandfather owned a shoe store in Carthage for over four decades, 'Faye's Boot Shop', and the only brand of sneakers he sold were Nike. So until his passing in 1996, that's all the Kamide family wore. Each summer, we knew we'd get a new pair of kicks for the school year, and each winter, a new pair of basketball sneakers. The fact that Uncle Chris, like many of us in the family, still swore by Nikes, was just another example of the tightness of the family, and the loyalty shown to Grandpa whenever it was time for a new pair of sneakers.

That loyalty exists whenever I look at these two pairs of sneakers I inherited from my Uncle Chris. There are days where I don't feel like going for a run. I've got a bunch on my plate. I'm hungover. I had a big breakfast, and don't feel like cramping up a mile into it. I didn't get much sleep, and the snooze button on my phone or alarm looked very appealing. I won't lie and tell you the thought of Uncle Chris and the shoes forces me to go on that run every time, I unfortunately don't have that type of will power. But he and the shoes are working at about a 75 percent clip right now, and I'm in pretty good shape. A big reason for that is there is a part of me that says get off your butt and go make your uncle proud.

I know you're up there resting in peace, Uncle Chris. We all miss you very much. And I'll keep running until these things fall apart. And keep thinking of you each time I lace them up.