Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Big Bang

If you haven't checked out one of Nashville's newest bars, The Big Bang, then you need to do so! If you were reading my blog back in July, you read about a trip I took for a girls' weekend in Chicago with Steph and Amanda. We ended up at a dueling piano bar called Howl at the Moon that we absolutely loved.

The Big Bang is pretty much the same thing. Two pianos, a drum set, and an electric guitar. Four or five band members who take turns playing every instrument. Full staff choreographed dances once an hour. Plenty of fun.

Danielle and I joined our friend Bennett for dinner at Bosco's and a chance to catch up since he was in town for the holidays. Then we were off to Broadway to check this place out.

We laughed. We danced. We sang along. Justin Timberlake. Dave Matthews Band. Billy Joel. Michael Jackson. College fight songs (I was expecting a UT vs. Vanderbilt battle, but the football fans in town for the Music City Bowl were supporting in full force). New music. Oldies. Well, basically three and a half hours of everything under the sun. It's amazing how much those guys know how to play, not to mention that it actually sounds really good!

We're contemplating a return on New Year's Eve with some other friends. I would definitely recommend trying it out if you're ever looking for something to do. I always have a good time at some of the other local favorites like The Stage and Paradise Park, but I must say this is my new favorite.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Vacation

I'm one of the fortunate people who gets a Christmas vacation. We closed down on Friday and don't go back to work until January 2nd. Let me just tell you - it is fantastic!

After the wedding weekend (and some extra sleep to recover from it), I enjoyed a lovely holiday with my family. We did our usual Christmas Eve dinner with my Grannie, Grandma, and Grandpa at my parents' house. On Christmas morning we enjoyed a home cooked breakfast (except with no bacon... I was disappointed) before heading to the den to open presents.

I really like everything I received this year. Santa does a good job of finding things I like (with a little guidance from my list, of course!) I got some running clothes, a few movies, some new Christmas decorations, some cash, and some clothes. I was also particularly pleased with a bright green pea coat!

Today I got to meet up with Steph and Patrick at the Pancake Pantry for a little Christmas of our own. If either of their families ever move from TN I suppose I'll just have to move, too. It would be sad to not see them at some point over the holidays! We had a nice breakfast and enjoyed catching up before an exchange of presents including Christmas ornaments, gift cards and music! Steph and I definitely know each other well and seem to have no trouble thinking of the perfect gifts for one another. That's what best friends do! If I hadn't been so happy to just be spending some time together, I think I could have teared up over the beautiful glass ornament with our names etched into it.

I've been spending the rest of today lounging about and catching up on some laundry. I've had some cds to get into my itunes. I might go see another friend of mine later tonight. I'm looking forward to one more Christmas dinner tomorrow, and then heading to downtown Nashville for some good times on Saturday.

Yes, Christmas vacation is truly wonderful. One of the best parts? Sleeping in. I didn't today, so I'm contemplating an afternoon nap. :)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Wedding Weekend

This past weekend was spent being a bridesmaid in my cousin Lauren's wedding. (See photos below.) Some of you who know my family may know that Lauren has been living in England for the past 4 or so years, and she met her handsome groom Edmund at Cambridge University.

Edmund is from South Africa, and some of his friends and family made the journey from there, England, New Zealand, and maybe some other places to come be a part of the big day.

Friday was full of wedding festivities. We started our day with the bridesmaid luncheon at LilliBelle's before heading to my cousin Amy's house for the lingerie shower. Then after making our bouquets, we were off to Benton Chapel on the Vanderbilt campus to meet the men for the wedding rehearsal. Then we enjoyed probably one of the best Italian meals I've ever had at Maggiano's in Nashville. Talk about yummy.

I don't think I have ever been in one room with so many people from other countries. Just hearing the assortment of accents was really neat. I really enjoyed talking to a lot of the people from other places and seeing how we do things differently from them.

Saturday we spent a good bit of time taking LOTS of pictures before the actual wedding. After the ceremony (which was lovely) we headed off to the Marriott for dinner and dancing. We certainly had an absolute blast. I spent some time comparing musical interests with one of Edmund's cousins.. we listen to a lot of the same stuff, but at the same time he'd never heard of Dave Matthews Band. I told him we needed to remedy that one!

When the reception was over, the wedding party wasn't quite ready to call it a night. So we spent a little time at the hotel bar laughing and talking and continuing to get to know one another.

It was certainly an enjoyable weekend, and it was fun to meet new people and see some again that I met when I visited Cambridge in 2005. Enjoy the pictures of some dancing, my sister and I with the beautiful bride, and the entire wedding party.






Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hello, I'm a Mac

If you ever turn on your tv for any amount of time, you're bound to be familiar with Apple's current ad campaign. You know how it goes... "Hello, I'm a Mac. And I'm a PC." And that really cute guy from Live Free or Die Hard is the Mac. Yeah, you know who I mean.

Anyways, has anyone else seen their special Christmas edition? I love it! It's animated in much the same claymation way as Christmas classics we've grown up with like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. The two animated guys (Mac and PC) are Christmas caroling when the PC changes the song lyrics to "Buy a PC and not a Mac this holiday season or any other season for goodness sake."

I laughed so hard. I was already a fan of these commercials and have definitely thought it was a smart idea on behalf of Apple, but this one set the bar even higher for advertising. So many commercials are just plain lame. Apple is really on to something here. So clever...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Parties

I've attended three Christmas parties in a 24 hour period. I'm sure this isn't a record, but it's not something I typically accomplish.

Party 1 - Family gathering in Manchester Sunday night. We go every year to visit my dad's aunt and uncle and have a home cooked meal together. The food is always quite good, and there is always a fight over how many meatballs everyone takes. Despite my aunt's announcement that there better be some for her at the end, I took 5. I always take 5. I don't take ham or squash or fruit salad, so I feel like it's an even trade. We had a nice evening and I went home with a full belly.

Party 2 - Work Christmas Party Monday. Wayne and I decided we had to at least have a lunch for the office party this year, so we made it happen. There was pizza. There were Chik-n-mini's and cheesecake from our favorite Chick-fil-A. Homemade fudge pie and inside out Oreo balls. Oh, it was a good day. There may have even been some Napolean Dynamite dancing. (You had to be here I think.)

Party 3 - Family gathering in Brentwood Monday night. My dad's cousin and her husband host a holiday gathering each year, and this year's was held in honor of my cousin who is getting married this weekend. It's not so much a dinner as it is a table of tons of yummy finger foods, but it's enough to make a dinner. The most unusual item was a Ritz cracker fried with a piece of bacon wrapped around it. Delicious. I lost count of the number of glasses of champagne I had (this can be quite dangerous and I've learned in the past) but I was snacking enough that it wasn't a problem.

No more parties for a few days, but then again I am supposed to have a Christmas date with a good friend and a Starbucks date with another. Those are kind of like little parties, I suppose. For now, I'm really looking forward to the rehearsal dinner at Maggiano's on Friday night. Yum!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The First Post Race Saturday

There's always something about that first Saturday after a race. For the first time in like 4 months, I don't need to get up at the crack of dawn to run an insane number of miles. There is no need to spend an afternoon napping. I won't require an extra meal or two to refuel. Honestly, I almost forget after four months of training what I did on Saturdays before I was training.

Today I slept in until 8:30 and believe me, it was fantastic. Then I headed out to Mercy Ministries to spend my morning and most of the afternoon wrapping and labeling Christmas gifts for the 40 young women staying at the home.

I really enjoyed myself all day and found it was a good way to spend my first non-training Saturday. The girls who come to Mercy often come from broken homes, and many have never received anything for Christmas. A lot of people who give to Mercy donate gifts or money to go toward gifts for all the girls. It was really exciting to be wrapping 40 of everything and knowing that it would be so exciting for the girls when they open everything.

I have to admit... it's been hard to make myself feel like it's Christmas this year. It's just come along so quickly that it doesn't seem like it's time yet. But spending my day wrapping those gifts really made it feel more like Christmas, and I suppose it's because I was doing something that is part of what Christmas spirit is all about... giving.

Now if only I could get all of my Christmas gifts wrapped for everyone. Maybe I'll knock that out tomorrow while I'm in the groove.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Taking It Back

This morning I got in the car for my 6-8 minute drive to work (depending on if I get behind the bus or caught at the red light) and found that both of the Christmas music stations were on commercials. So I started scanning and landed on a station playing KC and JoJo's "All My Life."

Suddenly it was sophomore year of high school, and I was at the Homecoming dance that I had helped plan and decorate the cafeteria for through the student council. There was this guy there who was actually a sophomore in college, but he had come back (it was Homecoming, after all) and came to the dance to catch up with old friends and favorite teachers.

His sister, a friend of mine from the track team, introduced him and he asked me to dance. It was my first time to ever dance with a boy. I remember that song was playing.

I didn't see him again for a few years until I was dating the guy who lived next door to him. After the relationship ended, I think this guy took me on a date once and then we ended up being friends for a while.

I hadn't thought about him or any of this stuff in years, but that song brought it all back. Isn't it interesting how our brains work? It's crazy to me how a song, or a smell, or a breeze outside on a spring day can take you back to a very specific moment in your past. It's almost always something I hadn't thought about in ages.

The smell of bacon upon waking almost always reminds me of Christmas morning, as that's about the only time we ever woke to a cooked breakfast. (We were fans of PopTarts.)

I can't listen to DMB's "Bartender" any more without remembering hearing it live a few years ago and dancing in a misty rain with dear friends.

There are certain Tim McGraw songs that remind me of a guy who waited too late to make his move and how disappointing that was for us both.

Every time I hear "you're too good to be true... can't take my eyes off of you.... I NEED YOU BABY!..." I'm taken back to age 15 and am singing along with Steph in the halls of LHS, probably irritating everyone around us and not caring the slightest bit about it.

Anyone who ever starts a prayer with "Our most gracious and kind heavenly Father" reminds me of Coach Evans, and then I'm somewhat surprised when it doesn't end with "and may we hold our heads up high with Wolverine pride, in Jesus Christ, Amen."

Listening to Coldplay's "A Rush of Blood to the Head" reminds me of a time when I was hurting more than ever before. (But I can hear it now, remember that, and feel glad about how I came out ok in the end.)

I could keep going. I'm sure you all have experiences with this. It's weird really, how all the things in our lives can be so intricately intwined in ways that keep us from ever really forgetting things from long ago. I hope I'll still be remembering all sorts of crazy details from my life when I am old and grey.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More Christmas Classics

When we got home from Huntsville Sunday evening, I didn't feel like doing much other than watching a movie. So we watched this Dennis the Menace Christmas special that my grandma had sent to us. It was definitely a family friendly film that I probably would have liked more as a kid, but it was still nice to relax and enjoy something festive.

It seems only appropriate to take a few minutes to highlight some of my favorite Christmas movies that I always try to find time to watch at some point during the season.

In no particular order....

~ Elf - This has become the movie that my family usually watches after we put up our tree on Thanksgiving.

~ Santa Claus The Movie - This is NOT the one with Tim Allen, though I usually enjoy watching it each year, too. This is the one from the 80s with Dudley Moore as Patch the Elf. John Lithgow plays the evil toymaker. His niece befriends an orphan named Joe. It's really a funny movie that I remember watching as a kid... it always really highlighted the magic of Christmas for me.

~ White Christmas - The original with Bing Crosby. Singing... dancing... acting... a show within a show. I would have loved to have seen the stage version at TPAC a few weeks ago. I love this one.

~ Miracle on 34th Street - The original black and white version. I always liked watching this one as a little girl, and as I've gotten older I've noticed that the girl in the movie looks a lot like I did when I was that age. It's kind of weird, but the movie is so good I don't notice how much it seems like I'm watching a younger me on the screen.

I also tend to enjoy the tv specials that come on throughout the holiday season. There's just something about Christmas movies that really makes it feel more like Christmas. And goodness knows we need that here since our 70+ degrees temperature is making it feel more like April.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Rocket City Marathon

I won't keep you in suspense. I ran the marathon in Huntsville on Saturday in 4:31:23. I was absolutely pleased with my time as it was a new personal best by about 25 minutes! That's a lot to shave off since my last marathon back in April. (I ran it in Nashville in 4:56:17.)

Now that you know the most exciting part, allow me to share a few anecdotes from the weekend. On Friday, we loaded up in the car (we being my parents, Danielle, and me) and made the 2-hour drive. Once there, we met up with Bob and my pal Bennett (who was first Steph's pal, but we often share friends with one another) and headed to the Expo. They gave us really nice long-sleeved Nike tech shirts... boys got blue and girls got pink. I keep asking who it is that thinks that all girls like pink. We don't. But it looks nice on me anyways I suppose. We then all enjoyed a nice dinner at Olive Garden to carb ourselves up. I can't remember what was so funny the whole time, but I laughed a LOT.

I didn't really sleep well Friday night. I suppose this was in part due to being in a different bed and in part being nervous that the two alarms wouldn't go off. I woke up, walked out on the balcony, and quickly realized I wouldn't be wearing 3/4 of what I brought to wear. It was 60 degrees! I donned my sneakers, shorts and tee and headed out for the race.

Anyone who's ever witnessed any kind of running race knows that a start gun is typically fired. At this race, there was no gun. There was a WEAPON. I'm pretty sure it was a musket of some sort that shot out a huge puff of smoke. The weapon-holder somehow managed to find at least 3 different times to fire the gun before the race even started. (This is not typical.) I learned really fast after his first "Fire in the hole!" shot to cover my ears. Wow.

Despite being a bit warm, the weather was pretty perfect. It was incredibly cloudy, and there was a light mist of rain during most of the first half. (I silently thanked myself for wearing a black sports bra under my white shirt.) I felt great running along and enjoying the Christmas decorations in people's yards and chatting a bit with my fellow runners.

Around mile 5, I made some friends! Damon and Wes were running along at about the same pace as me so we started talking and it turns out they're from near where I live. Wes took off with someone else, but I ended up running and chatting with Damon until mile 12. Those miles really flew by. He told me all about his job, wife and kids and asked all about my job and if I had a boyfriend (and seemed shocked when I said no... and then went on to tell me to keep in mind that most men are pretty much idiots until they're about 30 and even then it often doesn't change... it was really kind of funny how vocal he was about it), and we shared some stories of past races. I sent him on his way before the half when I realized he wanted to run about 15 minutes faster than me, but I really enjoyed his company. I actually found him at the finish, and he came in about 12 minutes ahead of me.

After the half-marathon point, Bob jumped in to help me pace for the rest of the race. I was really thankful he did. We maintained a solid 9:30 pace for a while as we moved past the mile markers. Somewhere around mile 21 the sun started to peek out. I literally said out loud that it was not allowed to do that, and it went back behind a cloud! Even though it stayed cloudy, it started to get unbelievably muggy during the last few miles. I started to struggle a bit and had to take a few walks breaks to try to stretch out my calves that wanted to tighten up. Bob helped me keep an eye on the time and made me keep going even though there were one or two times when I was almost in tears because my legs hurt so badly. I needed to use the bathroom once and really enjoyed the minute of sitting instead of running, haha.

Somewhere around mile 24 I cursed myself and said I'd never do this again, but I knew I was lying and within a few days I'd be all for another one. I'm already pondering New York or Chicago. If I remember correctly, I think I said sometime during the Nashville run that it'd be my last. I guess maybe I lie to myself sometimes to get myself through tough moments, ha.

Even though I had to slow down a bit the last few miles, I still finished pretty close to my target time. I would have loved to break 4:30, but I got pretty close and there's always next time. I happily collected my medal and my finisher's hat (that is actually pretty nice and something I'll wear), and I look forward to getting my certificate and finish line photo in a few weeks.

After the race, I headed straight for the free massages. It was almost painful because my muscles were so tight, but I think it helped. Everyone found each other and it turns out Bennett set a new PR by 3 minutes so he was excited, too. We enjoyed some lunch at Chick-fil-A and then headed back to the hotel to rest.

We went to a dinner sponsored by the marathon that evening and enjoyed a terrific meal and some exceptional whiskey sours, so no complaints there. We ended the evening walking around the local mall and enjoying a Cinna-Bon. I love those things. I definitely crashed hard that evening, but I still didn't sleep well because my body ached so much it kept waking me up. The things we go through to reach our goals... :)

Sunday morning after breakfast we visited the Space and Rocket Center. I had been once when I was like 7, but I had little memory of the trip. It wasn't the coolest museum ever or anything, but I actually really enjoyed looking at everything and reading all the cool stuff about our country's experiences with space. I think sometimes it seems so normal that we have astronauts, but when you really think about it it's pretty unbelievable we send people up into space. We got to ride a few rides they have and see an IMAX movie, so all in all it was an enjoyable day.

I'm still tired. My body is still a bit sore. I won't be training for another full for a while, but there are a couple of half-marathons I'll run in the coming months around Nashville. It was definitely an incredibly fun weekend, and I've been ecstatic that I ran so much faster this time around. It was worth the 4 months of training and everything else from the journey I took to get to that finish line.

They say that runners sometimes have a "state of blue" after a race. I always find this to be true. I know I'll run another one. I know I'll be back at the gym in no time. But it always takes me a few days to get past the emotions of being excited about the race and being down that it's all over. Don't worry, it's nothing extreme. :) I'm not over here all depressed or anything, but the sheer exhaustion always brings a bit of up and down to the emotions I feel after running a marathon. All in all, I'm very satisfied and honestly a bit proud of what I accomplished for myself with this race. That's certainly nothing to be blue about.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Marathon Bound

In about an hour, I'll be on the road to Huntsville for the marathon. It's very exciting, and it's exciting in a really different way from the ways the first two was exciting.

My bag is packed with a variety of race gear... the low is 56, the high is 70. I wasn't quite expecting that, but I think it should be pretty comfortable. It should still only be in the 60s by the time I'm finished.

I enjoyed a big pasta meal at Olive Garden last night. I've been drinking lots of water. I plan on a nap during the car ride down (I hope.)

It's going to be good. I can't wait. Stay tuned for details and photos of the big event.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Editing Season

It just wouldn't be the Christmas season if I didn't have a few papers to edit. They're like little presents... I give the gift of excellent spelling, grammar, and sentence structure to those friends in need before handing in a final paper.

I'm up to four this week alone. I think those may be the last of them for this semester, but if you've got one then feel free to send it my way. Really, I don't mind. It's kind of one of my things... I actually enjoy it. The Track Changes tool in Word is a beautiful thing.

Happy writing to all my dear friends finishing up another semester of school. Best wishes on all your finals!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

100th Post

For my 100th post, I offer you 100 random facts about yours truly. I have lovingly stolen this idea from Stephanie, who stole it from her sister, who stole it from someone else... what a fabulous blogging community!

1. My favorite color is green.
2. Therefore, my car is green.
3. It's a 2001 Cougar with only 61,000 miles on it.
4. I joke I'll drive it until it dies or I have kids, whichever comes first.
5. I'm thinking it won't be the kids.
6. I love chocolate.
7. Chili's has the best molten chocolate cake dessert.
8. But my favorite restaurant dessert is Demos' Raspberry Bash.
9. I don't like coconut, mostly because of the odd texture.
10. I'm the oldest of two children. My sister is 20.
11. I was born on a dark and stormy Friday the 13th.
12. I have a solid black cat named Tucker. I'm not kidding. Jet black, green/yellow eyes.
13. I'm not the least bit superstitious.
14. Tucker is the most affectionate cat I've ever known, not to mention incredibly vocal.
15. I have a B.S. in Journalism with minors in Office Management and French from MTSU.
16. I'm not using my degree at all right now, but I will someday.
17. I graduated Summa Cumme Laude. It was a big deal at the time, but I never think about it much now.
18. I graduated as Valedictorian in high school. Steph brags about this to everyone I meet.
19. Steph is my best friend.
20. She knows me better than any of my other friends, and her opinion always counts.
21. I still don't always listen, but she knows I value what she thinks more the other people.
22. Danielle and Aleesha are my best girlfriends here in TN.
23. They're always fun to hang out with and talk to.
24. I'm not planning on pursuing any higher education because I don't need to in order to be a freelance writer/editor and famous book author.
25. I still don't think my parents understand this.
26. If I ever wake up one day and feel like I need a masters, then I'll go get one.
27. I run marathons.
28. My first Nashville marathon in 2005 was finished in 5:12:43.
29. My second Nashville marathon in 2007 was finished in 4:56:17.
30. I'm planning on blowing both those times out of the water on Saturday in Huntsville. (Edit: I did. 26.2 miles in 4:31:23.)
31. I might try trail running next. Or maybe the Chicago or NYC marathon.
32. I think it'd be fun to work for a magazine in NYC someday.
33. But it wouldn't be fun to be so freaking cold in the winter there.
34. I tend to be cold-natured.
35. I suppose I could dress more warmly.
36. In college I was in Alpha Delta Pi.
37. I swear it was nothing like Greek life as you see it depicted on tv.
38. It's more like a bunch of girls getting involved together with service projects, social activities, and leadership positions on campus.
39. It was through ADPi that I got the position of the SGA's Homecoming Director.
40. Some days I remember that job and still wonder how I pulled it off.
41. But it was a hell of a lot of fun.
42. My big sister in ADPi is Serena and my little sister is Lena. Both are beautiful, sweet girls.
43. My sister joined ADPi when she headed to MTSU as a freshman.
44. Now we're like sisters twice.
45. I volunteer weekly at Mercy Ministries.
46. It's a terrific organization and it's a blessing to give my time to it.
47. I like mocha fraps every now and then.
48. I also enjoy a good milkshake.
49. Some of my friends tell me I'm really patient.
50. This is probably true, but I sometimes feel impatient with myself for being so patient.
51. Cozumel in Smyrna is my favorite mexican restaurant.
52. I learned to not eat there after running.
53. There was an incident one time. Steph was there.
54. My appendix was removed when I was 8 on New Year's Eve.
55. Not exactly my idea of a fun way to ring in the new year.
56. I'm not sure what I'll be doing this year. Last year I was in Boston.
57. I hope to visit Steph in Boston again before she moves.
58. There was a time when I wanted to be a teacher.
59. It was when I lined up my Care Bears on my toy chest and taught them math.
60. I hate math. I realize it's useful, but I'm terrible when it comes to anything more than balancing my checkbook.
61. Ironically, part of my job is accounting. (QuickBooks is a beautiful thing.)
62. I work as an Executive Assistant for a cabinet company.
63. My first job was as an Admin. Asst. at a risk management firm.
64. It was good for the first couple of months. Then I saw the truth about how things worked there and wanted out.
65. It took a few months to find something new, but my quality of life improved exponentially when I changed jobs.
66. Sometimes I use math terms like "exponentially" so that others don't realize I have the math skills of a second grader.
67. It's similar to my French skills, despite 18 hours of coursework en francais.
68. My magazine subscriptions include SELF and Runner's World.
69. Sometimes I think it'd be fun to spend some time working as a personal trainer or some other fitness job.
70. It'd also be kind of cool to run a dance studio.
71. I used to be a ballerina... and tap dancer.
72. I remember thinking that maybe some day I'd do it professionally.
73. I'm literally too old to try now, but I still have some moves.
74. My favorite shoes are my Sperrys and my Brooks running shoes.
75. I do like to change it up sometimes with some terrific heels.
76. I go back and forth sometimes with being a bit of a tomboy and being all woman.
77. Like how some days I don't wear make-up.
78. I hope my natural look is still pleasant for others to look at because I like it just fine.
79. My favorite TV show was Friends.
80. I own all 10 seasons on DVD.
81. I still laugh every time I watch an episode.
82. Now I enjoy How I Met Your Mother as well as LOST and Grey's Anatomy.
83. Other than this, I prefer movies and books to television.
84. I really enjoy grabbing a meal or coffee with friends.
85. I also really enjoy giving people gifts. It's so fun to pick something out for someone that you know she/he will really appreciate.
86. I'm done with all my Christmas shopping already.
87. But it doesn't mean I won't pick up a few more things.
88. I'm pretty independent and think I have a healthy take on appropriate boundaries.
89. I've been having the best year of my life, but I would still like to hope that next year will only be even better.
90. I can be pretty cheesy in my sense of humor at times.
91. I definitely laugh at myself and laugh a little harder when someone else laughs, too.
92. I really enjoy a lot of different types of music.
93. I like to sing along.
94. I had a lead in the musical my senior year of high school.
95. I had to kiss a boy. I like kissing boys, but usually only the ones I'm actually dating.
96. We made it look believable anyways, I hope.
97. I constantly try to learn and grow, hoping that I can become a better version of myself ever day.
98. I make mistakes and experience set backs on some days.
99. But I still keep trying.
100. And I hope that because of this that I'm constantly growing into someone who can better appreciate this life, all the people in it, and that can give much love and joy on a regular basis.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Little Excitements

Several small things have brought me some excitement in the past 24 hours....
  • I found some black boots yesterday. Really hot pointy-toed, black leather, stilletto-heeled boots. I realize this doesn't sound like anything monumental, but for me it is... I wanted to find black boots last year and after trying on pretty much every pair I could find, I finally resolved that it was not meant for me to have any. The ones big enough for my size 8 foot would either sag terribly around my skinny ankles or they were too big for my calves. I had tried again this year with the same results so far and had finally decided I just didn't care any more. I resolved to quit looking. Then Danielle talked me into a Sunday afternoon shopping trip. I spotted BCBG boots on sale for ridiculously less than regular price. I tried them on, and wouldn't you know they fit! So I finally am the proud owner of some very stylish black boots. I really lucked out on finding such a good brand, too. I've been working on my shoe collection lately, and I can safely say I have it pretyt much complete for now.
  • I bought some YooHoo's to have here in the fridge at work. Having one as I finished processing orders this afternoon made me smile.
  • I got the marathon information booklet for Saturday's race in the mail today. 54 pages of quality race information. My regular nightly reading book will be replaced tonight. I can't believe I have been training for this since August. I can't believe the race is this Saturday. I can't believe this will be my third. But at the same time, I believe it all. And I'm going to kick some serious personal record butt when it's all said and done.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

So This is Christmas...







One of the things I like most about Christmas is that it's always a good reason to invite people over for a party! This weekend we celebrated the beginning of the holiday season at my place with a lot of yummy snacks, a few games, and plenty of laughter and good times. Above you'll find just a couple of pictures from the evening. It ended up there were about 18 people here. It was exciting that I am finally in a place big enough to have that many over at once!
You'll also see a picture of my little Christmas tree. I opted for a small one after putting up the big one at my parents' house. The little reindeer are from Arby's... I'm pretty sure we got them years ago and I comandeered them to put under my tree since I won't actually put any presents there.
The party really turned out to be a great evening. We played this new game that I had never played called Apples to Apples. I recommend it! We also did a bit of Scene It and after playing the regular movie version, we switched to the Disney version. We had a bit of friendly competition between the gentlemen and ladies. The girls totally won. We know our Disney movies, ha!
I hope everyone is finding time this year to spend time with the people closest to you in your lives. I know I intend on attending a few more holiday gatherings between now and the end of the year. I love how festive everyone can be!



Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Santa? I KNOW him!!!"

I have a lot of fairly vivid memories of the years of Christmas that I have seen in my 24 years. There was the year I got a bike... the year my sister was sick and didn't open any presents... the year my dad was sick and didn't open any presents (Easter has always been my holiday for getting sick)... the year I got the talking parrot (I know I was like 3 but I swear I remember being excited over the "talking bird")...

The one I remember best happened the year I was in the first grade. Remember how Christmas Eve felt like the longest day EVER back when you were a kid? We always went to bed early so that we could be asleep before Santa arrived, but I remember being in the bed for what felt like hours trying to fall asleep and being too excited to do so.

That year I heard Santa's sleigh bells. They were loud. They were outside my window. I sat up. I heard them again. I knew it was Santa so I buried under the covers and squeezed my little eyes shut. I didn't want Santa to know I wasn't asleep yet and decide to go on to the next house.

I remember going back to school and standing in the hall outside of my class room and telling some kids in line all about hearing Santa's bells. One of them asked why I didn't look out the window, and I can recall that feeling of stupidity as I thought, "yeah. Why didn't I look?"

WARNING: Do NOT keep reading if you are under the age of 12.

When the day came that I learned the truth about Santa (a day I don't really remember), I had a really hard time accepting it because I had heard those bells. I couldn't put it together. What had I heard if it wasn't Santa? It wasn't until a few years later that my dad finally admitted to getting out of bed and jingling some bells under my window. He still gets a laugh over this story everytime. I think he was rather pleased with his ability to keep the magic alive for me.

I suppose I'll be likely to someday be standing under my child's window ringing some bells to get them all the more excited over Santa's gifts. But that's going to be a while from now...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas Carols, Part 2

I just needed to say that if you're looking for something a little different for your Christmas cd collection, then you need to check out Sufjan Stevens: Songs for Christmas. A friend of mine had introduced me to his stuff a while back and I absolutely loved it. So when Danielle told me she bought the Christmas album, I had to get it from her.

There are 42 songs (wow, right?)... some being classic favorites, some being new songs, and some being traditional hymns. I only had a chance to listen to a handful of songs last night, but I am definitely digging it so far and eager to hear the rest on my ipod at work today.

I also thought of my favorite "non-traditional" Christmas song... It's called "Christmas" by Leona Naess. It's worth the $0.99 download, promise.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Carols

I really enjoy the Christmas season. I love the trees and lights. I love seeing all the red and green. I really loving giving people gifts that I know they'll enjoy. And I definitely love Christmas carols.

I've already busted out all my Trans-Siberian Orchestra stuff the other day as I was decorating my house. I'm especially eager to get the Sufjan Stevens Christmas cd from a friend of mine later tonight. I don't complain that Mix 92.9 plays all Christmas music between Thanksgiving and Christmas day. I enjoy bee-bopping along in my car listening to all the festive tunes.

(A side note: Someone actually said to me the other day that she was sorry I had to be alone during the holidays. I suppose being single is interpreted as being alone? It's true that I can find a lot of joy out of having a significant other to share major holidays with, but not having one does not mean I'm alone. I do have friends and family and other would-be suitors, people. Just needed to throw that out there for anyone else who may be concerned. Glad we've got that settled, thanks.)

Back in my choir days, I loved when we did "O Holy Night" in the Christmas concert. There's just something about that song that is amazing. I heard Celine Dion's version in the car the other day and must say that my attempts to sing like her are often in vain, but when I turn the radio up really loud you might be convinced that I can hit those high notes, too.

My all-time favorite Christmas song? "Carol of the Bells." I have never heard a version I didn't love.

My least favorite? "Last Christmas." I first heard this song back in college when I worked at the mall during two Christmas seasons. We had a cd with about 4 hours of music, so I was guaranteed to hear every song once or twice during a shift. Those songs become permanently engrained in your head. This one just especially drove me nuts. The chorus is something like, "Last Christmas, I gave you my heart/ But the very next day, you gave it away/ This year to save me from tears/ I'll give it to someone special..." Why is this person only giving away their heart on Christmas? Did they not think the first person was special? I don't forsee this song becoming the next best classic Christmas carol anytime soon.

I know not everyone enjoys Christmas tunes. My sister always complains when I want to listen to them despite my best efforts to point out that we only listen to them for a month out of the year. I'm considering an intervention... how can anyone not like the occasional round of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas?" Ok, maybe that one I can understand...

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'll take a simple life...

It really is the little things in life that can make a day all the more enjoyable.

After a productive second two days of the long weekend (finishing Christmas decorations, moving my winter clothes into my closet and the summer clothes out, organizing and cleaning, and a little more Christmas shopping), it was time to head back to the office this morning.

I didn't really mind having to go back to work, but it's all rainy and gloomy out so it made it a bit harder to drag myself out of my warm, cozy bed. It's been a fairly slow morning, and when Danielle called to see if I wanted to meet her at Chick-fil-A for lunch I didn't hesitate.

Right after we met up, I noticed Brett and Gary walking in. These guys went to high school with us back in the day and while I see them fairly often, Danielle hadn't seem them in a while. So we decided to all eat together. Or maybe we kind of just joined them anyways... but they didn't seem to put up a fight. :) It also occurred to me that I've now seen Brett on four of the five past days. These sort of things sometimes happen in small town Tennessee.

We had a really enjoyable time laughing and talking. It's not like it was anything all that exciting, but I find that it's the simple things like running into a friend and sharing a meal that can really make a day even better.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

Any of you who know me at all know that I did not get that shopping gene that most women seem to possess. However, I always enjoy buying gifts for people. So I take advantage of the holiday deals and head out every year on Black Friday with my mom to try to knock out as many presents as possible.

Today was rather successful. Not only did I find at least 75% of the gifts I need to buy this year, I came up with some really good ideas for the rest of the people on my list. I'll have to go back out once or twice more to make it all happen. All in all, I was fairly pleased with some of the things I came across.

Another good thing about the Black Friday shopping is that it's a good time for me to find things to point out to my mom as things I'd like. As we've gotten older, my grandmother in particular has had a hard time shopping for me and my sis. Something in her thinks we're still budding teenagers instead of gals in our 20's. It's always good when mom can show her specific things that we'll like on Christmas morning.

I don't mind the Christmas shopping. The crowds don't really bother me. I don't mind parking a mile away. There's something about all the decorations and the Christmas music in every store that is so festive and makes it all more enjoyable. And the deals... I just can't help it. I like bargains. IYou get the same thing but for less. It's fantastic.

It was a long day and I'm glad to have it behind me. Now I've just got to get this Christmas tree up... and then watch Elf!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Boulevard Bolt

Today I joined some friends in a new Thanksgiving tradition - the Boulevard Bolt. Apparently this 5-mile race has been happening on Belle Meade Blvd. for years, but this was the first time I've done it. I think as long as I'm in Nashville, I'll keep running it.

My sister and I headed out there with the Bob to meet up with Amy and Mark, Clint, Erron, Rachel, and Brett. We had some pretty serious storms come through here last night, and we were all thankful the rain stopped before the run. It was cloudy and cold, but really it ended up being pretty perfect weather once you were running.

Around 8,000 people came out for this 5-miler, including one couple dressed as a giant turkey and Pocahontas. The first mile was a little tough because there were so many people, but once we broke through the initial crowd we found a good pace and glided along.

I was really proud of Meredith. She's been running a little here and there but was less than thrilled about letting me talk her into running this one with me. But she kept up until right at the very end, coming in less than a minute behind me. I managed to complete the run in 42:05. To give a little perspective to my non-running readers, this isn't especially fast in general (the winners did it in under 30 minutes) but it was REALLY fast for me. I averaged an 8:25 minute mile. Wow.

It was a really fun thing to do on the holiday. Even Meredith said she had fun. We got home fairly early so I headed to Cracker Barrell with mom for some hot chocolate and the holiday breakfast sampler. I love me some cinnamon biscuits. I caught the end of the Macy's parade and enjoyed a little nap before catching the Thanksgiving episode of The Cosby Show. (I laugh every time Cliff comes back from the store in the storm only to have to go back for a forgotten item.)

I ate way too much at dinner tonight (my tummy still hurts a bit), but when you run 5 miles in the morning doesn't that make it ok?! I tried deep fried turkey for the first time and it was amazing! All in all, it was a good Thanksgiving. And to top it off, my cousin came over and was able to fix my computer. I was excited about that, too.

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Just wanted to take a few minutes to wish you all a very happy turkey day! I hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday weekend with your family and friends. Be safe if you're traveling and don't feel guilty if you eat too much. It's one of those days when calories don't count!

This year will be a little different for me and my family. We always did a big Thanksgiving lunch at my grandparents' home. My family definitely knows how to make an exceptional buffet of turkey, ham, casseroles, and desserts galore!

The whole family will still be getting together and bringing the usual spread, but this year we're having dinner at a community center where one of my grandmothers now lives. It'll be different, but I'm sure still just as good as usual.

I certainly have a lot to be thankful for... my life is definitely blessed with a lot of good people between all the family and friends I have. I have a great job, a nice home, a sweet kitty cat, and nice belongings. I am thankful for lessons I've learned and this journey that I've been on in my life. I'm thankful for my health and for the ability to go after my dreams. I'm thankful for the opportunities and freedoms that I have. But most of all, I'm thankful for the people. My relationships make my life more fulfilling than anything I own or anything I could do. Thank you all for being a part of my life in some way.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dreams

I dream a lot. I'm talking like it's unusual for me to wake up and not remember at least one of my dreams. And I dream in color. I read somewhere that most people dream in black and white. I can't remember what it says about me that I see colors, but I hope it's something good.

Anyways, I usually dream about people I know or something that happened or that I'm anticipating happening. If I talk to someone right before I go to bed, I often see that person in my dreams. Same thing goes if I spend time with anyone in the last few hours before bedtime.

Last night I had a bunch of dreams. I kept waking up and thinking, "Wow, that was weird." The only one I remember though was about wasps.

I've been finding a lot of wasps in my house lately. This doesn't really please me, especially since I know Tucker is likely to play with them before I find them and I don't want him to be stung. Most of the time they're laying on the floor but aren't quite dead yet. They meet their doom when I flush them down the toilet. One day one was still crawling around, but he couldn't fly so I squashed him with a fly swatter. It gave me a real "protector of my territory" sort of feeling, ha.

So last night I dreamed about going after a wasp with a fly swatter that was still in flight. He landed on my shoulder (almost like a bird might) and out of the corner of my eye I could see him getting ready to sting me. In the dream, I have a flash back of the time a fly landed on my leg when I was at Opryland and I got really scared because I was like 8. It didn't sting me, but I didn't like having a wasp touching me. Anyways, then I grab my shirt to pull it away from my body and he stings but it doesn't get me since my shirt is lifted off my shoulder and his stinger isn't long enough to reach my skin.

Next thing I know I'm awake and I have flung my covers off of me, I suppose in some subconscious attempt to swing the wasp away. Tucker was curled up beside my legs so I'm sure he was a little confused when the comforter was suddenly thrown over him. I realized I was awake and there was no wasp on my shoulder and promptly went back to sleep.

I guess maybe the wasps in the house were bothering me more than I thought, haha. It's crazy sometimes what's in my dreams. I think the old tale is that if you tell about your dreams before breakfast, they'll come true. Don't worry... I've already had my cereal.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pet Peeve

I don't have a ton of pet peeves. Most of them are pretty logical things, in my opinion. My biggest pet peeve? When people don't do what they say they're going to do. Absolutely drives me nuts.

Tonight I had to drive out to Belle Meade to pick up race packets for the Thanksgiving Day run my sister and I are running. It's not really that far, but it took me forever and a day to get out there and back since I had to go in rush hour traffic.

Bad drivers are another pet peeve of mine. I don't really have road rage. I kind of like having some peace when I'm in my car. I put on some good tunes on the ipod and start singing along, making my merry little way to wherever I'm going. But there are moments when my peace is interrupted by someone who doesn't know how to drive.

Aside from slow pokes and people weaving in and out all over the place... or aside from the people who almost hit me because they're doing something dumb... the thing that irritates me most are the people who brake and practically come to a complete stop and THEN turn on their blinker as they start to turn. If you're braking, you probably know you're turning so I don't really see the problem with turning on the blinker. Anyways, it's a little thing, but one that almost always solicits a little "blinker and THEN brake!" comment off my lips. But then I get over it.

I guess we all have our little nuisances in this life. :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Perfect Weather

We could not have asked for better weather this weekend in middle Tennessee. This is what a fall weekend should be like. Not too cold, but no longer warm. Just a pleasant, crisp chill that makes any weekend activity all the more enjoyable.

I had a chance to go to Gatlinburg this weekend. I'm sure it's absolutely gorgeous up there right now. I opted not to go for several reasons, but I couldn't help but remember hiking out to a waterfall up in the Smokies when I went last year. I might just have to try to put together a weekend girls' trip out there sometime soon to get a good dose of the mountains.

I ran my last long run of 17 miles yesterday morning. Both the Bob and my friend Michelle joined me for the last 10 miles. I had pushed myself to run the first 7 at a 9-minute mile pace, thinking I'd take it a little slower the last 10. Well, Michelle typically runs around an 8-minute or so mile, so we all compromised and ended up doing 9-minute miles the whole way. I have never run 17 miles in 2:35 before. I could definitely feel the difference! But I know that training on the faster side this whole time is definitely going to pay off in 3 weeks.

I'm actually kind of ready to be done with the training and just go run the race. I love to run, and I like having a goal and something to work toward. But it never fails - about this time in the training I start feeling ready to not be following a training plan. To be able to just run what I want to run and when I want. To not schedule other plans around my training runs. To have more flexibility in doing other workouts at the gym. It's always better when I rotate between having a race to train for and having a more "la-ti-da" type workout schedule. I'm really looking forward to going to more of the classes at the gym in lieu of some of my runs.

Then again, there's some things about training that I always miss, and I guess it's part of what makes me go back for more of it after a while. Like eating 5 meals on a Saturday because I burned ALL my calories for the day in the first 3 hours. Or seeing people freak out when they ask what I did that day and I tell them. Or all the little eccentric things that happen that give you good running anecdotes. I actually had a first last week... I was running along and suddenly heard a loud honk that literally made me jump. When I looked, it was a fire truck with five firemen smiling and waving with fervor. I smiled and waved back. I'm sure they were laughing at my jump, but seriously... those fire truck horns are loud!

I've enjoyed a lazy weekend after my run. I visited my grandparents. I did some reading. I made a trip to the scrapbook store to get some needed supplies. I'm spending this afternoon working on the album for my junior year of college. If I could ever catch up it'd be easier to keep my scrapbooks more current. I don't take near as many pictures now as I did in college when something was going on like twice a week. My friend Danielle is about to join me. I've found that scrapping with a friend is always more fun... you have someone else to bounce ideas off of... and make a quick Starbucks run with for something yummy. Oh how I love going to Starbucks this time of year. It's so festive.

I'm seriously just babbling on now. The point is that it's been a beautiful weekend. Sure, it's been a little cloudy. But I'll take cloudy and 65 with a breeze any day. There's just something about the fall. I love the way the leaves crunch under my feet and being able to wear sweaters and just the way it smells outside. I hope everyone is having a pleasant weekend!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Memory

At one point during my freshman year in college, I had an interest in this guy that I'll call Ted for the purposes of this blog posting.

Ted and I had met at some point in our high school years, but out of nowhere we started spending some time together freshman year. I wouldn't call it dating or anything at first. It was very sporadic in the beginning, but it was enough that I knew I kind of liked him and wouldn't have said no should he ever ask me out.

One weekend I went home, and my mom talked me into making a late night Wal-Mart run with her. Since I'd been hanging around the house all day, I wasn't really fixed up. In fact, I recall looking pretty rough. I had dirty hair in a ponytail, wore my glasses (that were not cute at the time), and had on an old t-shirt with baggy, holey jeans. I'm not the girl who has to fix up to go to the grocery store, but I must have appeared more unkempt than usual because my mom asked if I didn't want to change or something. I said no and how I didn't even care if we saw anyone. I remember adding, "Well, the only person I wouldn't want to see me looking this bad is Ted."

Guess who I saw at Wal-Mart that night? Yep. Ted. There was no slipping down an aisle to hide. I came around a corner and found myself face to face with him. I remember pretending like I didn't know how bad I looked as I exhanged some chit chat and headed on my way feeling mortified. I think my mom laughed pretty hard. What were the odds I'd see the one person I didn't want to see? I suppose he wasn't scared away at my rugged look that evening because we did go on to date for a bit. He wasn't a shallow guy. If there's one thing I know I want, it's a man who can appreciate me for me, regardless of how I dress or if I wear make-up all the time or if my hair is perfectly coifed.

I remembered this story because I saw Ted the other night. I had showered after my run and pulled my wet hair in a ponytail, threw on some clothes and headed out for the evening. I felt just fine about how I looked even though I wasn't especially fixed up, but I couldn't help but laugh when I saw him just because it reminded me of that Wal-Mart encounter. Don't get me wrong, I like to take care of myself and look nice... but who can look like a million bucks 24/7? It's too exhausting. Going out au natural can be rather liberating, especially if it's just to run some errands or something. Why do I need make-up for that?!

But don't let me mislead you... I like to take the time to get all dolled up just as much as I like being comfortable going out in my own skin. That's just the woman in me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Half-Birthday

So today is my half birthday. It's exactly six months since my last birthday and six months until my next one. I'm really not sure what made me think about it when I was dating a bill this morning, but nonetheless... it's true. I am exactly 24.5 years old today.

This realization also prompted me to start singing that song from the cartoon version of Alice in Wonderland. You know the one... "The Unbirthday Song." Granted, I had it in my head for at least an hour before I remembered it's not a half-birthday song, but I suppose the exchange of words still works.

24 has been pretty decent so far. It's still a little strange at times when I think that I'm technically in my mid-20's now. (When did that happen?) I'm feeling good about my life. I've done a lot for a gal who is exactly 24.5 today, and I know I still have a lot to look forward to in the coming days, months and years. I think that's something worth celebrating.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Running Anecdote

I suppose it's only appropriate to share a few running stories of old on occasion. Let me take you back to the beginning. Ok, so not the VERY beginning... but back to my earliest memory of competitive running. (Ha, I say that like I'm some racing star. I assure you - I am not.)

I'm sure my actual earliest running memory is of running around in the backyard. Always the imaginative child, I made up games with imaginary friends and ran or biked around the backyard like I was a world traveler. I'm sure this somehow stemmed from all the reading I would do curled up with a flashlight in my closet (this was because I didn't want to be found and interrupted in the middle of a chapter, I think). Regardless, I am a world traveler now and intend on seeing more in the future, so I reckon things turned out somewhat as I dreamed.

Anyways, in elementary school we had to go to gym class once a week. At the end of every gym session, we lined up on the basketball line at one end of the gym. Boys were on the left side and girls on the right. The idea was that the first boy and girl would race to the other side of the gym, tag the blue mat that was on the wall, and race back. Then they'd go to the end of the lines, and the next two would be up.

Boys used to scramble to change their position in the line to race me. I don't remember if it was that some were afraid to go against me, or if some wanted a chance to try to beat me. I may not be a sprinter now and I may not have really been one back then either, but for whatever reason I could always outrun the boys until about the 6th grade.

I don't remember feeling especially competitive with them about it, but I think it provided me with some sort of satisfaction that no boy would ever be able to torment me on the playground... he wouldn't be able to catch me. In fact, I remember a boy named Michael who was in another class and had heard about my speedy ways. He challenged me to a race on the playground. I'm pretty sure he cried after he lost.

I don't usually outsprint any guys these days, but I don't guess there have been many to challenge me to a race lately either. Wait, I do recall a few years back a boyfriend daring me to race him across a bridge. He didn't cry after I beat him, but I think I still felt a little bad about it after seeing the look of surprise on his face. But I'm not one to "let" someone win either. :)

When I run races, I really don't concern myself with who I see in front of me or behind me. My joy comes from the challenge I give myself. And I'm certainly not out to make anyone cry over it all. I believe running is physical, mental, and emotional. It's symbolic of our life. And the pleasure is in knowing you gave it your all. I guess technically everyone's "all" has a place in the race. But does that number really define you? I don't think so.

But Michael, if you're reading this... don't worry. I'm sure you'd beat me now.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Taking It Back

I had an interesting experience last night. Yesterday was Homecoming up at MTSU, and since I couldn't make it to the game I headed up there later in the evening to spend some time with my sister around town.

We headed out with some of her friends to stop by Greek Row and meet some of her favorite SAE boys. I can't even remember the last time I was in a fraternity house, but I've been out of college for 2 1/2 years so it's been sometime longer than that. I honestly don't remember spending a lot of time over there during my senior year other than Homecoming. I guess when you date someone not in a fraternity, you find there aren't many reasons to hang out on the row. I don't think I missed out on much, but then again, sometimes I wonder...

It was really kind of strange walking in there. I knew I wouldn't know a soul, but I immediately felt a bit nostalgic. It felt odd to walk past rooms where I used to drop in and visit friends. It seemed like at any minute a familiar face could walk around the corner. None did, of course.

One thing I don't remember is how bad the houses smell. It was terrible! I guess maybe they smelled like that back in the day, but I certainly don't think they did. Maybe when you're in college you're immune to the smell. I told Meredith that she should use her power as SAE sweetheart and help get the place cleaned up. Her response? "I'm SAE Sweetheart, not SAE mom." She makes a valid point.

I do remember that when I was there, Homecoming night was a big deal. You could always count on something happening that night at almost every house. But apparently that's changed, too. The best thing we could find was a field party for $10 a person, regardless of if you wanted a cup or not. We didn't go. Who wants to pay to party in a field when it's 30 degrees outside? Apparently, none of us. So we ended up at IHOP instead where I ate some chocolate chip pancakes that were delicious. Yes, if you read yesterday's post you'd recognize that this was yet another meal within a few hours of dinner and some Dairy Queen. What can I say? Girl's gotta eat...

I don't typically feel especially old or anything. There are still people at MTSU who were there when I graduated. But boy... everyone looked so young last night. Except this one guy I met who turned out to be the little brother (in the fraternity, not real life) of my pal John who I used to hang out with a lot back in the day. I guess he loved college so much he decided to stick around a little longer than the rest of us. It was a good reminder than I need to give John a call.

It was fun to hang out with Meredith and meet some of these boys she's always talking about, but it definitely is a strange experience to be back on campus after being gone for a while. It's like it's the same, but everything's different.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The 20-Miler

I'm not going to lie. Sometimes when I wake up at 6:30 on Saturday mornings to get ready for my long run, I feel really nervous. It's not a mental thing. Mentally, I'm ready. But it's like my body heard a rumor about what's about to happen and my stomach gets that nervous, sick feeling.

Today was my 20-miler. I won't do anything longer than this until race day when I go the full 26.2 miles. It was pretty cold so I had to bundle up a bit more than I prefer, but I run so much better when the weather isn't blazing hot and sucking out all of my body's salt through all the sweating.

It went well. My body quit being all nervous by the time I got to the park and turned on the ipod. The Bob joined me for the second 10 miles which was incredibly helpful in keeping me going when I started to feel tired. It's harder to quit when you've got someone around to hold you accountable to your goal. I never felt like quitting today, but I think I would have slowed down a lot had I been alone the last few miles. Instead, I ran the last mile or so faster than the 19 before. I was kind of ready to be done I suppose. :)

20 miles in 3:10 today. This is VERY exciting. 4 weeks until Huntsville. I think I'll definitely be ready.

After 20 miles, a girl's gotta eat... so I stuffed myself full at the Olive Garden. Then I napped like all day. And then I stuffed myself again at Demos'. And now I'm eating Dairy Queen. Ah, the joys of running...

Friday, November 9, 2007

Busy Bee

I've been a bit MIA the past few days. My apologies for neglecting you, dear readers. I really have no excuse other than I've just been such a busy bee this week.

Work has kept me constantly busy. I'm not complaining. I was bored out of my mind at my first job out of college. You might think it'd be kind of cool to be paid to sit around and do a whole bunch of nothing all day, but it's not. Trust me. I'm a million times happier being productive all day.

Today I got to go with the Bob to see one of the homes where we recently installed cabinets. This house is literally smack dab on top of a hill out in Franklin. The house is one of those ridiculous mulit-million dollar homes (not that I wouldn't live in one given the opportunity, of course), and the coolest thing is that it's so high up you can look out and see for miles. The view was gorgeous, especially with all the colors of the tree leaves across the hills. Tennessee can be so freaking beautiful sometimes.

I've also been busy with my runs (no surprise there, right?) and some other social engagements. I honestly feel like this week has absolutely flown by, and I'm not quite sure where it all went. It's crazy how quickly time seems to go as I get older. Or is that just me...?

Anyways, I promise to get back to it for you guys. The biggest reason for my blog absence is my computer hasn't been working since Monday evening. It's rather annoying, but I know a guy who knows a lot about computers so I'm hoping he can fix it. As much as I want a Mac, I'm really not feeling the hit on my bank account that such a purchase would make right now. I guess we'll see.

Monday, November 5, 2007

This Thing Called Life

Some of you may know that back in April my boss and I raised money for a local non-profit called Mercy Ministries when we ran the Country Music Marathon. To offer a very quick background, Mercy is an organization that helps young women with addictions, eating disorders, a background of abuse, and other issues that affect their self-esteem and ability to live a fulfilling life.

I certainly have never been through anything even remotely similar to what the girls who come through the program have experienced, but I do think we are all on a journey to become the best versions of ourselves that we can be. I think we live in a time where it's like second nature to be critical of ourselves and others around us. It's true that we're not perfect. It's true that we all have fears and weaknesses and insecurities. But in the end, I don't think any of us want to be defined by those things. And we shouldn't be. They're part of human nature, but they shouldn't control our lives. The program at Mercy works to help the girls alter their habits and their approach to this thing called life so that the negative things are not what's controlling them.

I think that's what any of us are ever trying to do. I know that I'm trying to live a life of beauty. I have my own doubts and fears and insecurities, but I don't want to let them hold me back from going after the things I want... from living a good and fulfilling life.... from giving of myself to the people around me. I want to be good friend, a good daughter, a good employee, and someday a good wife and maybe even mom. I think I've realized somewhere over the past couple of years that I used to be really hard on myself. And maybe I still am in some ways because I push myself to give my best to what I'm doing in my life. But I think I've also grasped the truth that I can never please everyone. I can never be perfect. And there will always be moments of fear or insecurity. But somehow I've learned how to not let those things rule my life.

I've been spending time down at Mercy weekly since learning more about them through the marathon fundraising, helping with the organization of other volunteers for various events and some other odds and ends. With the holidays coming, there are a handful of fundraisers and activities for the girls in the home on the calendar. It's exciting to give some of my time to this organization because I know that there are young women who graduate from the program with more confidence in themselves than they ever dreamed they could have. They're able to walk out and refuse to let the negative things in life control how they live. They learn how to handle both the ups and downs that life throws at all of us.

I realize this is a slightly deeper post than I usually make and maybe somewhat evasive, but I was driving home from Mercy today thinking about how much I have grown and changed in the past 10 or so years. I used to be so shy and so unsure of myself. I think we all dealt with a decent bit of insecurity when we were young and figuring out who we are... it's part of youth. And I'm still young. And I'm still trying to figure it all out. And I know there's still a lot in store for my life. But I feel like I'm living with a smile. I feel certain that lessons I'm learning are shaping me into a better woman. I know that I feel good about who I am. I'm still going to keep working on those weaknesses. I'll still admit to a few fears and insecurities. But they don't define me.

I want a life of joy. A life of compassion. A life of giving. A life of honesty. A life of fulfilling relationships. A life of embracing the good things. A life of gracefully dealing with the bad things. Like I said before, a life of beauty. Dreams. Struggles. Victories. I want to be like the beautiful butterfly.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Another Beautiful Saturday

I have really been fortunate to have some fantastic weather for my Saturday long runs these past few months. I of course hope to keep seeing them over the next 5 Saturdays.

Today I met up with the Bob at the park for a 10-miler. I decided that I should pick up with what I skipped last week and keep going from there. I'll probably cut out a 14-miler from the schedule instead. We ran fast. Not like Kenyan fast, but 9-minute mile fast, which is kind of like an endurance sprint for the Melanie. This is the part of the training where I start getting antsy for race day, but I'm doing my best to stay focused so that I can reach that 4:30 (or maybe even faster!)

It'd been a long week at work, so it was nice to head out for a run instead of heading to the office. I certainly enjoy my job, but this week I had to spend hours on my computer doing some very tedious work. We realized that the way we thought a certain group of bills should be posted was screwing up the financial reports, so I had to go back and change the account they posted to. We're talking 100's of bills from this one vendor. All the way back to June. Like I said: tedious. I have felt a bit restless everyday because of it. So it was nice to get some of that built up energy out today with a solid run.

Just past the old base is another path that circles around the lake that we've started using more frequently. You guys, I felt like I was in a movie this morning. First, there was this really heavy fog coming off the lake. It made everything feel somewhat mysterious. As we came around the lake, we were running over tons of leaves that had covered the path. The fog looked misty over the water and accentuated all the colors of the tree leaves that are finally changing colors. It looked like a painting. I think it actually took my breath a bit. (Or maybe that was the cold air that I haven't adjusted to yet.) And then as we turned to head back, we could see the rays of sunshine breaking through the trees. It was perfect. This is one of many reasons why I run. I think it's easy to overlook what a beautiful world we live in... what a beautiful life we have. We get caught up in the day-to-day activities and the errands and the work and our feelings and our entertainment. Not that any of that is bad... but sometimes it's just really nice to get outside and feel the wind on your face and let the cold air rob you of warmth and just soak in what's going on around you. I've seen numerous deer on my Saturday runs. One day there was even a flock of wild turkeys. I don't know what the words are right now to explain why it's so fantastic to me to be out there running through all this life... but maybe you know what I mean.

It's just a beautiful day. I grabbed some breakfast at Chick-fil-A (mmmm, chick-n-mini's) and stopped in the new Kohl's. I'm now contemplating watching a movie and maybe even a little nap before getting into anything else later this evening. I know things mean different things to different people, but I hope that everyone finds their own way today to appreciate being exactly where you're at... whether it's outside in the sun playing, inside doing some reading, hitting the town with friends... I hope you enjoy this beautiful Tennessee autumn day.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Weekend Visitors - Story

I mentioned in a post a bit ago that this past weekend I'd be having my first house guests since I moved to the new place. Stephanie and Patrick landed in Nashville to attend Spoon and Nicole's wedding on Saturday. And yes, Spoon is a nickname. :)

Steph and I always talk about how we don't see each other often enough, and you can only imagine how important it is to us to make the most of our occasional weekends together. We certainly made sure this one was up to par, though I'd say we were a much more tame version of The Wrecking Crew without Amanda around. It was however great to see Patrick this time since he wasn't with us in Chicago and I hadn't seen him since New Year's. I've always liked him, and I'm definitely thankful that he respects the position of best girl friend that I hold and that he's willing to share his wife with me. We're guilty of chatting on the phone way too long sometimes...

After dinner at Demos' on Friday (always Steph's fave, and I'm pretty sure I first ate there many years ago with her and her family), we headed over to Spoon's house to hang out with old friends. There was drinking and dancing (kind of) and standing outside where it was way too cold and all sorts of good catching up until 3am when the guys were quite dismayed we were ready to call it a night. Steph grew up with these guys and I managed to get grandfathered in when we attached at the hip in high school.

We spent a leisurely Saturday around the house playing MarioKart (Patrick loves video games; I do too, but I only know the old school ones). I was also ever so grateful that Patrick took the liberty of changing things on my computer to make it faster. I've been wanting a Mac for ages, but this one is still running so I guess I should make the best of it for now.

Ben (one of Patrick's friends from back in their high school days... I think we figured out that Steph and I met shortly before they did) joined us that evening to head to the wedding. The pictures below show off the happy bride and groom as well as the four of us (though not all together because we forgot to ever take that one).

It seems like the more weddings I go to these days, the more that they're kind of like mini-reunions. I always see at least a handful of people that lead me to a "I remember when..." sort of thing. I had seen and reminisced with most of the people I knew at this wedding at Spoon's the night before, but I did see a guy that I had dated for all of 30 seconds back in high school as well as a guy that I know went to Acclaim with us but his name I couldn't remember. The reception was full of good food, dancing, picture taking and a truly patriotic moment when we held hands and sang "God Bless the USA." (Yes, we really did.)

Post-wedding we all headed back to my place where I sadly lost my crown as the queen of MarioKart. But good times were had by all, and Steph was certainly proud of my valiant efforts since MarioKart is like the one game I'm actually competitive with. I would also like to point out how proud she was of the way my shoe collection has grown. I hate shoe shopping. And I'd be happy wearing sneakers, flip flops, or Sperry's on any given day. But a girl's gotta have more than that to go with the variety of outfits she likes to wear, and I'd recently made a few new purchases. I noticed her eyeing some red ones... I was eyeing her to make sure they didn't fall into her suitcase. ;)

Weekends with Steph always fly by way too quickly and require a few days to rest back up. I think it's safe to say that we all had a terrific amount of fun and will be looking forward to next time.

Weekend Visitors - Pictures




Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!


This is actually the first year that I haven't had some sort of Halloween festivity to attend and wear a costume to. I've always enjoyed Halloween because of the creativity of coming up with a good outfit. While I have fond childhood memories of the holiday, I also remember some especially good times from college.

The Y was having a Halloween Festival for the kids yesterday, and as I headed out after my run I found a parking lot full of little ones dressed as princesses, super heroes, animals, Sesame Street characters and so on. I realized that I can't really remember what made me decide from year to year what I wanted to be when I was kid, but I certainly recall most of my costumes.

I've been a grey mouse, Minnie Mouse, Snow White, Cinderella, a witch (green face and everything), Dorothy (with a stuffed Toto), a Renaissance princess, an Egyptian princess, a ballerina (probably more than once), a cow girl, a 20's flapper, and probably some other things I'm not remembering. I do remember how fun it always was going home after school to put on my costume and go trick-or-treating with my sister and parents. We never really did the door-to-door thing. Mom and dad drove us around to all of our aunts and uncles and close friends. I imagine the reason for this was two-fold: 1) they all got to see us in our costumes, and 2) they felt sure no one was poisoning us. Good thing we're a loving family.

So since I didn't have the opportunity to dress up this year, I'll share this picture from last Halloween. I hope it's obvious that the party's theme was an 80's prom. It's a bit easier to see if you click on it to look at it in a bigger screen. Hope everyone has a nice Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Monday...

If the title of this blog causes anyone else to go into song, then we have something in common. As soon as I typed it, I suddenly heard a "la dah.. la dah da dah" in my head. I wasn't even thinking about it before then. But now that I am, I wonder if Monday is really any less trustworthy than any other day of the week. I suppose it's often hard to get back into work mode on Monday mornings, but I don't think that makes me trust or distrust the day. Hmmm...

So how about those Red Sox? I must admit I'm not a huge baseball fan, but I can appreciate the significance of winning another World Series. Congrats to them and Boston fans everywhere.

The past few days have flown by in a whirlwind of sorts. Steph and her husband were in town visiting and attending a friend's wedding. We had a terrific weekend, and I promise a post with some details and pictures of the occasion next time around. I'm still trying to catch up on my sleep after two late nights and despite hitting the pillow super early last night, I'm dragging my feet a bit today. But I always say that some things are worth losing a little sleep over, and a weekend with close friends is certainly one of them.

I also missed my 10-miler yesterday. Scratch that. I chose to skip it. And I don't feel the least bit guilty. It's only the second run I've missed during three months of training so I feel pretty sure that I'll be ok. I'm getting more and more excited about the upcoming race.

Sorry for the lack of posts the past few days dear readers. I hope this one will tie you over for the time being.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Jacob Law Firm

I have no idea who the Jacob Law Firm is. I also don't have a clue who this girl they are looking for is either. We'll call her Stacy for the purposes of this blog posting.

Whoever she is, the Jacob Law Firm wants to find her. About a month ago I came home to find a message on my machine from them asking her to call them back. I didn't think much of it until a few days later there was another one.

After about 4 messages from them and noticing that their number was on the caller ID at other times when they did not leave messages, I finally called the number back and told them they have the wrong number for this girl and to please quit calling me.

I thought it was all taken care of until I had two more messages the next week. I didn't really care as I hit erase each time. But the last message they left was a bit harsh. The lady that called that day finally caught on that my answering machine says you've reached Melanie. Her message was actually for me, and she told me that I needed to make sure Stacy called her back because they have a VERY important situation to discuss.

So I call the woman back to tell her I don't know Stacy and that my number is not her number. I was really surprised that she was somewhat rude to me about it. She asked if I was sure I didn't know her and if I knew if she ever had my phone number. I assured her I was clueless and that I'd had the number for about 1 1/2 years and that was all I knew. Then she wanted to know why I hadn't called them back sooner! I told her I had and that I even asked them to quit calling me and that I hoped this time they would delete my number from their system.

The whole thing was kind of funny, and it really makes me curious about what the "situation" is all about. Did this girl break some law? Has someone named her in a lawsuit? And why do they have my number as her's? Did she used to have it? If so, why is it that it's 1 1/2 years later and it's still listed as a contact number for her? Or did she give someone a made up number that happened to be mine? Oh I know! Maybe she met some guy at Starbucks but then gave him a fake number and maybe also stole his wallet and now they're trying to find her.

Hmm, I could probably turn this scenario into several different short stories.

In other news, there's a large puddle outside the office next to my car. I've been watching about 6 birds use it as a bath this morning. They're actually kind of cute to watch splashing around.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rainy Days

Anyone in the Nashville area knows that when I say we're having some rainy days here that what I really mean is that we're experiencing a state of constant soggyness. It's not stopping. Sometimes it lets up, but before you know it you can't see across the street again because it's pouring so hard.

I've never minded rainy days. I don't feel blue over the gloomy weather. Granted, I prefer that it doesn't rain on the days I need to run, but I've run in torrential downpours before when necessary. To me, there's something kind of nice about the rain. While I did pay attention in all those science classes where I learned what causes precipitation, there's still something kind of mysterious to me about how all this water comes out of the sky and goes back into the earth. The whole cycle is really amazing to me when I think about it.

Rain doesn't keep me from getting out. I'll still run errands and go get groceries or whatever else I need to do. I might roll up the legs of my jeans to prevent the water from slowly creeping up from my ankles to my calves (is anyone else baffled at the way rain water can move UP denim? ha). I might break out the rain jacket (it's green - my favorite.) And maybe I'll run on the treadmill instead of outside. But I kind of like being in the rain. I don't even really care that it gets all over my glasses and makes my hair all frizzy.

Although, I do have to admit... I wasn't crazy about rainy days when I was in college. There are a lot of days when I miss something about being in school, but rainy days are not one of them. MTSU's campus floods... we're talking big ponds everywhere. Once you finally ford the river and jump over a pond (it's very much like the Oregon Trail actually), you get into a building to find everyone with squeaky shoes on wet floors and everything smells really bad. Yeah, I don't miss that part.

The hardest thing about rainy days for me is getting out of bed. I don't really struggle to get myself up most mornings any more now that I rise early every day, but this morning was a bit of a fight with myself. My room was still so nice and dark. I could hear the rain pouring down and running through the gutters. Tucker was curled up beside my calves. If it wasn't for that terrible sound my alarm kept emitting, I wouldn't have been able to push my sleepy eyes open.

It's a bit of a cliché I guess, but rainy days make me want to read a good book. Or watch a movie. Or curl up on the couch with a significant other. Or take a nap. Or write a story. Or just sit and look out the window for a few minutes and watch it come down.

Yes, I kind of like rainy days. Or in our case here in Tennessee right now, rainy weeks. The really crazy thing about it? We're still close to being at 70 degrees... the week before November.