Unavailable at Amazon

23 August, 2015                        Unavailable at Amazon 

Today is my 54th birthday. Because I have priceless friends and relatives, all the gifts I get are priceless. Ev took me out for dinner last night:

Post race birthday dinner! Priceless!

Post race birthday dinner! Priceless!

My friend Ethan grew a butternut squash for me – and gave it to me on my birthday weekend. Think about the planning that took – he must have started this in May. Thoughtful and healthy and delicious and beautiful – look at this:



After Ev and Mackey and Turner and I returned from the river this morning, Mackey began barking – and it was our neighbor Hanna – who already brings us eggs from her chickens – delivering homemade chocolate chip scones! And look at this sign! An embarrassment of riches:


To avoid repetition - these items are unavailable at any price!

To avoid repetition – these items are unavailable at any price!

Plus how about that hand drawn sign? Everyone is so talented! Gardeners, cooks, signmakers, it’s amazing.

Yesterday on my birthday eve I was fortunate to participate in the Quantico Triathlon. It was held at the Marine Corps Base Quantico just an hour or two north of here on the banks of the Potomac River. Try to imagine a perfect course in perfect weather – it was just a tiny bit better than that. Here’s a picture Ev took of the swim start – I’m in there somewhere:

As a friend mentioned, you can recognize me because I'm the one in the green cap.

As a friend observed, you can recognize me because I’m the one in the green cap.

Here’s me at some point on the bike – I don’t recall if this was the beginning or the end:

Either just finishing or just starting the bike. I think that's just starting. But I'm not sure.

Either just finishing or just starting the bike. I think that’s just starting. But I am uncertain. 

Here’s one of me early on the run, crossing an overpass:

Fun picture crossing an overpass. This is probably mile 0.3 or so.

Fun picture crossing an overpass. This is probably mile 0.3 or so. Thanks for the cool picture Ev! 

A few minutes later I was running across a field at about mile 0.7, heading into the woods and a Bald Eagle flew over my head!  

Ev waited patiently (very patiently; I’m really slow) and caught me crossing the finish line:

I don't always like to stop!

I don’t always like to stop!

While Pat and I were out on the course, Evelyn was hanging out with Pat’s wife Megan. All four of us met a guy named Adam the evening before at the swim start. Personable, handsome young guy with one leg just like the one most of us have and the other one missing from his hip down. He was in the US Air Force and he’d lost the leg seven years ago in Afghanistan. I said I’m a rehabilitation counselor, I work with people with disabilities, I like to learn how people accomplish different things. So I asked him how the heck he’s going to get out of that swim in the Potomac River and get up to his bike. He said, more or less “my running leg is going to be down here and I’m going to put it on and go up and put on my biking leg.” Race day morning Ev caught a picture of a guy bringing down prostheses for Adam and another guy:

A guy carrying people's spare legs. How cool is that?

A guy carrying people’s spare legs. How cool is that?

Later in the day, Megan took a picture of Adam and another guy after the race:

Adam in the red shirt.

Adam in the red shirt.

That’s Adam with the red shirt and another guy missing a limb in front of him. If you can’t read Adam’s shirt it says “EOD Warriors” which stands for “Explosive Ordnance Disposal.” So I have no idea how he lost his leg, but it’s a good bet he was disarming an IED. Most fascinating to me was his attitude about it. He didn’t have an attitude about it. He gave the strong impression that he thinks as much about having one leg as you think about having two legs. I quote David Foster Wallace regarding that sort of attitude “People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being ‘well-adjusted’, which I suggest to you is not an accidental term.” If everybody was like Adam, it would put rehab counselors out of business. He might have needed help for the first year or so. It was a privilege to meet him.

Anyway, late in the race, it was so beautiful, I was slowing down just enjoying myself. I was joking with people that I was slowing down because I didn’t want it to end. I was having too much fun! Which is the way I feel about this blog post and my birthday. In a few hours I’ll get started on my next un-birthday. And I’ll end this post with what they handed me when I crossed the finish line. Nerdy triathletes like me refer to this as “bling.” See you next week!


Bling front

Bling front

Bling back

Bling back

About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
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6 Responses to Unavailable at Amazon

  1. Ed says:

    Dude, you rock! Thanks for the blog!

    • Thanks Ed! Great to hear from you! And I’m glad ANYBODY enjoys the blog! Hope to see you at the pool soon. I have two more races coming up – still a lot of pool time! Thanks again and take it easy,


  2. okilloran says:

    Great blog post, Jay! You certainly had a memorable birthday this year!

  3. Jenny says:

    Happy Birthday, Jay. As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed you post!

    • Thanks Jenny! And I’m glad you enjoyed the post! As you know, when you’re in the rehab field it’s easy to meet people you have something in common with! Thanks again and have a great day,


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