Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mailbox Musings

One of the MANY things I do at my job is to make two daily treks to the mailbox. It's not really that far, but it can be a real nuisance when it's cold, rainy, or hot.

Most of the time I can count on finding certain things: bills for both companies that need to be posted and paid, payments for cabinets, letters confirming the receipt of charitable gifts, credit card applications, catalogs that usually go into the recycle bin, cabinet magazines, and the occasional solicitation of some sort.

Every now and then, there's something for me. Granted, this is because I use this address for shipping anytime I order things online. I also give it out if someone is mailing me something really important. Doing this enables me to collect said important thing as soon as it comes along with the mail lady.

Today I received one such important package. What did it contain? My friend Kirk's PhD dissertation. Don't worry... I knew it was coming. I even knew it'd probably be in there today.

I'll be spending a good bit of time over the next couple of weeks editing it. Yes, by choice. He asked me and I accepted. Of course, it's not entirely out of the goodness of my heart... there will be compensation. But still... I can think of plenty of things that someone could be writing a dissertation on that I would require far more money than a PhD student has to offer for my editing skills. Like anything about science. Or the presidential campaign and election. Or calculus. But reading a dissertation on athletic training is kind of up my alley.

Then again, maybe I shouldn't say that until I've read it. :)

I'm looking forward to it. Should be fun.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

UFOs, Others, and weird things in general...

For those of you not living in the greater Nashville area, we had a VERY windy and rainy day yesterday. The rain was steady, and the wind was rough enough that it looked like the stoplights were going to fly off their cables.

I experienced an incredibly freaky moment on the interstate last night. There were no other cars. Four lanes of traffic and there wasn't a car to be seen in front of me or behind me. Granted, it was raining, but not so hard that I couldn't see a decent ways down the road. I had this weird feeling like the road had been closed and I wasn't aware of it or something.

THEN - it had been lightning off and on, but suddenly there was a flash that lit the whole sky up in this really strange green color. I immediately said out loud, "Maybe it's a UFO!" Of course, I don't really believe in such things... And then I thought about how in the Harry Potter books there's always a flash of green light when someone uses the killing curse... But the smart and less creative girl in me finally spoke louder than my more imaginative and fanciful thoughts and pointed out that lightning probably hit something that had a green sign or something. Maybe it was one of those stoplights that were swaying frantically in the wind.

All of these unusual happenings are kind of fitting considering the big event of this week: the season premiere of LOST. Two hours tomorrow night. Heck, two hours tonight of the season finale from last year. I'm pretty excited. This is by far my absolute favorite tv show (one of the few I actually watch). I love the mystery and suspense. I love the flashbacks (soon to change to flash forwards this season from what I've heard) and learning about the lives of all the characters. I love finding out who the Others are and how they got there. I love how I know that it's not going to all make sense until the end... three years from now. Good grief, by that point I'll be 28.

If you haven't seen the first three seasons, I wouldn't recommend you try to start watching now... you'd be so lost. (Haha... lost. Danielle has pointed out to me recently that I'm notorious for cheesy puns.) But I do recommend you get the seasons on DVD sometime and start watching. Unless you don't like weird, suspenseful type shows that keep you guessing for years.

PS - One of Letterman's "Fun Facts" last night: "It's estimated that by the year 2009, every commercial will feature Peyton Manning." I laughed so hard.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Siddhartha

I just finished reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. I'm not one to do a lot of book reviews. I'm a big supporter of the idea that a book can have numerous meanings and that the individual reader decides what to take from the reading. It doesn't mean I'm not willing to share what I got from a book (because I am), but I'm not feeling inclined to do so today.

Suffice it to say that I enjoyed the book and the meaning that I found in it. I certainly recommend it to you.

I would like to include a few excerpts that stuck out to me:

"Indeed he had never been able to lose himself entirely, to give himself entirely to another person, to forget himself, to commit follies of love on account of another; never had he been able to do this... But now, ever since his son was there, now even he, Siddhartha, had utterly become one of the child people, suffering because of a person, loving a person, lost in that love, a fool for love. Now, though late in his life, for once he too felt this strongest and strangest passion, suffered from it, suffered lamentably, and yet was blessed, was somewhat renewed, somewhat richer."

I know this thought is a little out of nowhere, but this part reminds me of a scene in the movie Hitch when Albert is telling Hitch how miserable he is without the woman he loves, but that he'd rather spend his whole life feeling that way than to have never had the chance to love her. (Kind of also sounds like the whole "it's better to have loved and lost than never loved at all...") I think love brings so much more to our lives other than warm fuzzies and that in the end we all know the messy parts also come with the territory.

And one more excerpt:

"'When someone seeks,' Siddhartha answered, 'then it happens all too easily that his eyes will see only the thing he is seeking, that he cannot find anything, cannot let anything in, because he is always thinking only of that thing he seeks, because he has a goal, because he is possessed by the goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal. You, venerable one, may be a seeker, for, striving toward your goal, there is much you do not see which is right before your eyes.'"

This brought to mind some Dave Matthews lyrics that go, "If you hold on too tight to what you think is your thing, you may find you're missing all the rest." I quoted that in my graduation speech back in the day...

I didn't really set out when I started this post to relate a book from 1922 to pop culture, but I kind of did, didn't I? Well, I guess it goes to show that there are some things that are just part of the essence of the human nature that keep turning up throughout the years...

Read the book. It's good.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Danielle

Today one of my closest friends turns 25. She's already informed me it doesn't feel much different than 24, but I think that hitting the big "quarter of a century old" is somewhat significant.

Danielle and I have been friends since high school. My first memory of her is when she was in Algebra 2 class with me our freshman year with the world's stupidest teacher (and that's an understatement.) This is also the same class that you may have heard me reference to as to how I met Steph. Our fourth friend, Jennifer, was also in this class.

The four of us did almost everything together during our high school days.... football games, movies, sleepovers, AP classes (yeah, we were those kids), making t-shirts, and all the other things that high school girls tend to do.

Danielle and I always had a lot of fun together, but we didn't really keep in touch during the four years we were in college. After getting our degrees, we were both living in the same area again and began what we call the second phase of our friendship.

Since then, we've done other fun things together like going to 6 Flags, running a 10 mile race, doing yoga and working out at the gym, seeing Coldplay in concert, keeping our commitment to write at least one email per week when she spent a year in England, scrapbook, watch great movies, and in general laugh a lot and exchange advice.

Sadly, Danielle will be leaving me again to move to Korea, but I know we'll keep in touch... especially since she got me a webcam for Christmas so that she can see my smiling face when we talk on Skype. I certainly value Danielle's friendship and the fun that we always have together.

So now I'm off to go meet her and her fam to eat a yummy birthday dinner and ice cream cake. Happy Birthday Danielle!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Spirit of the Marathon

Last night I went to see the documentary Spirit of the Marathon at its one-night showing in Green Hills. I realize that this sounds like an incredibly nerdy thing to do, but when you 1) are a nerd and 2) are a marathon runner, you can have a deep appreciation for this kind of film.

It was pretty good. The movie follows a handful of people throughout their adventure of training and running the 2005 Chicago marathon, with some history about the marathon interspersed. I particularly enjoyed the part with photos of the first woman who ran Boston and her boyfriend who tackled the race official that tried to tear her number off. I also liked the part with the footage of Joan Benoit Samuelson winning the women's Olympic marathon back in the 80s. And I found out that we have the British royalty to thank for tacking on that .2 at the end of the race. I'm going to remember that during my next run.

My friend Ben who went with me made a comment before the movie that we were probably sitting in a crowd of the healthiest people in Nashville. He may be right. And then I pulled two boxes of candy out that I had snuck in inside my purse. Score.

The fun thing about watching a marathon movie in a room full of runners is that you all laugh at the same parts and understand exactly why everyone thinks it's so funny. Like the part where you saw a spectator holding a sign that says, "You're all crazy." So true. Or the part where the wife makes sure to mention as they look at race medals which race she beat her husband in. Or the part when they talk about how women seem to naturally have more endurance than men. Interesting, although when you think about the whole childbirth thing is anyone really surprised by this detail? We're made for pain. I also got a kick out of the footage of Jerry (a much older man) stopping to hug the spectators along the race path. I would so do that.

It was also really cool to get to see how some of the more elite runners train and the footage of their race. I never get to see that part since they're always a solid 2-2.5 hours ahead of me in a race. Jerry made a comment about how cool it is to run the race and know you're running in their footsteps. I honestly have never thought about that when I'm running.

We agreed after the movie that it definitely makes you want to go out and pick your next race. I know I'm planning on some half-marathons this spring, but I'm more certain than ever now that I want to do Chicago or NYC next. I just have to figure out which one to go after. Chicago registration opens next week. I also know I want to train a little bit harder... maybe I can pull off a 4:20. If I can keep it up, who knows? Maybe I'll slowly but surely, one race at a time, keep knocking off more and more... and maybe someday pull off a Boston qualification.

There haven't been any plans announced for the movie to be released in any other capacity, but if it ever turns up on video somewhere or on TV I highly recommend it. Even if you don't run, I'm sure you'll find something inspiring for your own personal challenges.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Charlotte

Today I read an email from one of my closest friends that said:

"Oh, by the way, if you were a Sex and the City character, you would be Charlotte. You're an eternal optomist, who believes love will prevail eventually! I hope you're right... you keep me confident that I'll find it one day too. "

I suppose without sharing the rest of the email it may seem a little out of context, but suffice it to say we've been chatting recently about how when it comes to dating it's always a famine or a feast. (Come on, you know that's how it goes.)

I'm not an avid viewer of the show, but I've seen enough of the edited episodes on ABC to know that my friend is not off base. I probably am most like Charlotte. I recently did catch an episode before bed one night where Carrie dedicates her book to single, hopeful women everywhere, especially her friend Charlotte. (Or something like that.... I wasn't paying that close of attention so forgive me fans of the show if I slaughtered the paraphrase of the episode.)

I am hopeful and sometimes painfully optimistic. It's not in my nature to be cynical. I'm not just talking about when it comes to love... I'm talking about life in general. I've always been prone to see the good in people, in things, in life... and I easily forget about the bad. I don't like to hold grudges. I'm generally understanding, forgiving and compassionate. I think people deserve second chances. I don't like to let stupid things ruin relationships.

Granted, it's taken time and maturity to learn how to balance this kind of attitude with the realities of this life. It'd be easy to allow others to take advantage of me and my outlook on life, but somewhere along the way I've figured out how to avoid being naive in the midst of remaining hopeful that the good things always prevail and outweigh the bad.

And yes, I suppose this attitude is most evident when it comes to dating and relationships and love. I am hopeful. I'm fine with where I'm at right now, but it's no secret that ultimately I want to find a best friend to spend my life with. I have to keep my confidence that I have a lot to offer and that someone amazing is going to realize that when it's the right time. It'd be easy to be cynical about men after having my heart broken a few times, but I find it easier to trust that it just meant I hadn't found that best friend yet and that sometime or another I will.

So yeah... I'm Charlotte. My friend hit the nail on the head with this comparison. I'll end this with a quote I found in a Lisa Kogan article a while ago. It's not exactly in line with my overall thought process here, but as I was thinking about the character of Charlotte it kept popping into my head.

"I believe in love. I believe it transforms, transports, and transcends. I believe it fine-tunes goodness, solidifies strength, ripens resolve, eradicates rage, alleviates stress, and elevates empathy. But more than anything else, I believe in love because when you don't have it, you tend to spend your every waking moment chasing after it..."

Love never fails, right?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heath Ledger

At the gym they have these huge tvs up front that run the captions at the bottom, so sometimes if I'm on the front row of treadmills I'll read along with what's happening on CNN. I wasn't paying too much attention yesterday since most of it was about the stock market, but I glanced up and saw the notice that Heath Ledger had been found dead. My jaw dropped open and I plugged my headphones into the treadmill so that I could turn it on and listen.

I have to say that of all the younger celebrities of my own generation there are a few that I would not be surprised to hear this kind of news over. I don't mean that in a terrible way, but I think you'd mostly agree that you can think of 1-2 famous people that we know are spiraling out of control. But this guy? I mean, he led a quiet life. He stayed out of the tabloids. You hardly heard a word about him unless he had a movie coming out.

I guess it's shocking too because this is the first famous person of my generation that I grew up watching that's died. I remember the first time I saw 10 Things I Hate about You and thought he was just the cutest thing ever... I even cut out an interview of him in Seventeen magazine to tape inside my closet door with other clippings. I remember seeing A Knight's Tale on a date. And I loved The Patriot.

It's just so sad when stuff like this happens. Even sadder is knowing that these things happen every day, but we often only hear about the famous people. I hope that someone can benefit in some positive way from this.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Some tagging fun

Well my dear little diamond Lena "tagged" me, so I thought I'd continue the taggin fun. Today is such a rainy, gloomy ole day that it hurts my brain to think much about things to write anyways.

4 jobs I've had:
1. Retail at Aeropostale (way back in the day)
2. MTSU Orientation Student Coordinator
3. MTSU Resident Assistant/Resident Director
4. Executive Assistant (my current job)

4 movies watched over and over:
1. One Fine Day
2. Sleepless in Seattle
3. Ocean's 11 (and 12 and 13)
4. Harry Potter movies

4 places I've lived:
1. my parents' house
2. various rooms/apartments on the MTSU campus
3. a quaint little apartment
4. a way-too-big-for-just-me house

4 shows I watch:
1. LOST
2. Grey's Anatomy
3. Ugly Betty
4. Dirty Sexy Money

4 places I've been:
1. England
2. Boston
3. Las Vegas
4. NYC

4 people who e-mail me regularly:
1. Steph
2. Amanda
3. Danielle (when she lives in other countries)
4. Other people come and go in waves

4 favorite things to eat:
1. Mexican - especially at Cozumel
2. Southern food (fried okra, mashed potatoes, cornbread, etc.)
3. Italian - I love all things pasta
4. chicken (not a big red meat kind of gal)

4 places I'd rather be:
1. In a big city like NYC or Chicago
2. On the beach
3. At a friend's house
4. Europe

4 things I look forward to this year:
1. Discovering more of what God has in store for me
2. Growing myself and my relationships
3. Running some more half and full marathons
4. Taking a few great trips to Boston, Florida, and maybe even somewhere overseas

4 people to tag:
1. Steph
2. Danielle
3. Michele
4. Whoever else would like to continue the fun :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

She's Got Skillz...

I'm not in the habit of making multiple postings in one day, but I couldn't resist sharing this one...

Today I went to a local favorite restaurant to pick up lunch since we had a customer in making cabinet selections. I eat at this place pretty often and know some of the people in there well enough to sit and chat while I wait on the order.

Today I managed to walk out of there with fried okra. I know what you're thinking... that doesn't sound like anything special.

Oh, but it is... fried okra is not on their menu. Ever. Once a week they have stewed okra, but they didn't even have that today. The manager himself cooked some up for me and even made a special dipping sauce. (I know... I've never dipped okra in anything either, but it was worth trying.) Both were exceptionally good. In fact, it was even better than Cracker Barrel's fried okra. Wow. That's saying something.

So yeah. It pays to have some skillz. (Does anyone else remember that song? Granted, the lyrics are a little on the vulgar side but most of you know me well enough just from reading this on occassion to know my skillz are on the classy side.) I mean, it's not every day you can sweet talk a manager into cooking you something they don't even offer.

Sunday Entertainment

I realized last night that I covered both ends of the feminine and masculine spectrum in the ways I entertained myself yesterday.

After an afternoon of shopping (not always my cup of tea, but I was looking for a few things), my sister Meredith, my mom , and I went to go see 27 Dresses. I TOTALLY recommend this movie. The audience was probably 9 women to every 1 man, but I overhead several guys sitting behind us saying how they thought it was really good as we walked out.

It wasn't especially sappy. It was actually really funny and something that I think the guys that were dragged there by their girlfriends ended up enjoying more than they thought they would. I laughed a lot. And come on - there's seriously some eye candy for either sex. Katherine Heigl... James Marsden... you can't complain about watching either. Besides, with the writer's strike this may be the closest we can get to a Grey's Anatomy-like fix for a while. Go see it. It's a good one.

Once I got home, I tuned into the Giants vs. Packers game. Honestly, I'd be happy with either team going to the Super Bowl, but something in me was kind of rooting for Eli. Maybe it's just that I was disappointed to see Peyton miss out on a second bowl. Seeing the mini-Manning make it is really almost just as exciting.

I only watched the last quarter and overtime, but it was a little bit nerve-racking. When I watch a game where I care about what happens, I get all nervous for the players and antsy about who's going to win. It always reminds me of when I'd go watch this guy I had a thing with in high school play ball. I don't know Eli personally, or Peyton, or anyone else that I might cheer for... but in some ways I feel really excited for them or really disappointed for them based on the outcomes of the games they play. I think it boils down to I just respect the Manning family... they always seem so kind and humble.

I don't know if anyone else caught it, but Brett Favre gave Eli a big hug after the game and said, "I'm proud of you." Proof that even football has a soft side.

There's no doubt in my mind that the Patriots are a fantastic team. But still... I can't help but root for the Giants come Feb. 3. Two Manning Super Bowls in a row? That's pretty cool. Of course, no one expected THIS Manning... but still... pretty cool in my book.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More on Running

My fascination with distance running wouldn't be complete without a subscription to Runner's World. I have several magazines I read each month, but this one is definitely the priciest and has the least amount of pages. I don't know what's up with that, but the hour or so I spend reading each issue is a happy time for me. I love cozying up in my bed before going to sleep and reading a few articles. I get excited as I discover stories of runners who have overcome all sorts of challenges to excel either in their personal goals or at a more elite level.

I'll probably never be an elite runner. I don't foresee myself taking home a huge prize purse or qualifying for the Olympics. But reading about some of the people who do always inspires me to push myself a little bit more.

I keep running not because I want to look good. It's not because I want to beat a bunch of people. There are tons of reasons, but the biggest is that I like to set a new goal and go after it.

I've just started training again and will be running some half marathons in March and April. My goal? Break 2 hours.... and then some. My previous best is 2:02 so this shouldn't be too hard I hope.

I'm already dreaming big about a marathon later in the year. I'd love to do NYC or Chicago. NYC is like the Super Bowl of marathon racing. Entry is based on a lottery system, so I may or may not get to run if I apply. It's hilly. There are more people running it than any other marathon. It's expensive to run and expensive to stay somewhere in the city. But wow what an experience. Then there's Chicago. Steph and her husband will be living there this year so that'd be cool. It's incredibly flat. It's probably the second largest race. But coming off of their unusual meltdown last year it's a bit of a gamble to go run it.

So we'll see. I'm thinking it all over. Something tells me it's time to give one of them a shot. I'm young, I'm in great shape, and I can probably convince the Bob to give me a day or two off to fly up to one of them. What better time could there be to go do it?

Meanwhile, even if you're not a runner I would encourage you to check out January's issue of RW. You can find it online here. There's a great section that talks about what happened in Chicago this year (basically, it hit 88 degrees and no one was prepared) as well as details on the NYC marathon and the U.S. men's Olympic trials (Ryan Hall is probably America's most promising up and coming American marathoner). There's a really heart-touching story on Ryan Shay, one of the runners who collapsed and died during the trials. His wife sounds so much stronger than I could have ever imagined as she talks about life since that day. You'll even find an article with an ab workout that many of the runners training for the Olympics are using. I tried it and believe me, if I can suffer through the pain it'll definitely work!

There's also a great article on finding the right training zones using a perceived effort scale that I'd recommend to anyone who's wanting to give running a shot. And I have to share a part that I couldn't help but laugh as I read it...

"Foster has found that only about 10 percent of athletes he has studied failed in their perception - mostly control-oriented people like lawyers and surgeons, who don't like to admit that anything is difficult. 'They're on a treadmill, saying "This is easy. This is pretty easy. This is sort of moderate" - and then they're going backward off the treadmill.'" ~from "Get in the Zone" p. 32

Don't worry.. my laughter wasn't so much over the lawyer/surgeon comment (though isn't that interesting?) but more over the thought of people flying off the back of treadmills after pretending they weren't running their hearts out.

Happy running to all my fellow runners... and to those of you who aren't runners, then I hope you're finding new inspiration in your passions every day.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might

Earlier today I did something that I called "pretty uncharacteristic of myself" when I told my friend Danielle about it. We are always our own worst critic, and I think sometimes I forget some of the ways in which I've changed over the years. What I did is still not something that I would typically run right out and do, but it's something that I've become far more likely to do now than say, like 5 years ago.

I'm not going to tell you what I did just because it's not something I feel the need to make public knowledge. But don't worry... it wasn't anything bad or illegal. It was a very positive experience.

I walked away smiling. There may be absolutely nothing that comes about because of my actions. But it still felt good to take an action that I wanted to take that I normally might shy away from. I guess in some ways, I felt a little proud of myself. I always say that I'm trying to live my life in a way that leads me to grow into a better version of myself with each passing day, and it felt good to do something that I think kind of grows me a bit.

Driving home tonight about 4 hours after this small triumph of mine, I was singing along to a good tune and looked up and there it was... a shooting star. I smiled. Do you ever have those moments when nothing else matters other than just realizing what a beautiful moment you're in? It was like that. Absolutely beautiful.

So I made a wish. I don't know where the concept of wishing on shooting stars came from, but if nothing else it's a beautiful sentiment. It can't hurt, right? Star or no star, there are always things that I wish for... that I pray for... that I hope for... And after the events of today I sat there in that single beautiful moment after that star fell through the sky and knew... felt confidence... it's all going to turn out right in the end. It always does. I can rest assured that my life is good, and that there is much to be smiling about tonight.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Seriously?

I logged my first run of the year and of my new training plan yesterday afternoon. It was a short run, but I ran pretty fast. I find that when I take a few weeks off like I have I lose my speed before I lose much endurance. Granted, I won't run any 20 mile runs anytime soon, but I hope to get back to logging 10-15 miles on Saturdays to get ready for the half marathons I'm running in March and April. Yay!

My quads are a little sore today, but it's a good sore. I always feel a million times better in general when I'm regularly getting some workouts in.

So after my run, I was chatting with one of my favorite teachers/personal trainers there at the Y. It turns out he's doing a marathon training class twice a week. I figured I could use something consistent like that to help with my mid-week runs. The catch? The class meets at 5:30 AM. I have to admit, I'm not crazy about the idea of getting up any earlier than I already do... but at the same time it'd be REALLY nice to get my runs done early and not have to trek to the gym after work. Plus, the gym is always SO much more crowded until about March with all the people who made fitness resolutions for the new year. Somehow I doubt it's packed at 5:30.

I'm thinking about it. I'm not sure of if I can get myself to bed early enough to not be grouchy on the days I make those early morning runs. Maybe I'll try it out next week and see how it goes.

Sidenote: Today on Lightning 100.1 (just about the only radio station I really listen to) they are playing their top 150 artists in alphabetical order. I've got it streaming on my computer and they're on the D's right now. I'm digging it. Something to check into here if you could use some good tunes today. (Granted, you can listen to their regular programming at any time, too.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Few Good Laughs

One of the things I think we learn as we grow up is that life isn't always fun and exciting. Some days can be really routine, and a lot of the obvious happy occasions are sprinkled sparingly throughout the weeks.

Because of this, it's important to find joy in the small things. I find that doing so allows me to maintain a certain amount of so-called "happiness" on a more regular basis. Here's a list of some things that have made me laugh in the past 24 hours.

- Our UPS man always tells me what he's brought when he walks in to have me sign for everything. Yesterday he comes in announcing "I've got one labeled 'Beach Body' today." There's one you don't hear everyday. Then Bob calls out, "That one's mine!" The whole ordeal was comical. On further inspection, it's a fitness program of some sort with tons of pictures of body builder-esque people. I laughed harder.

- I got home and found an envelope from the Post Office containing a letter I'd been mailed that they promptly ripped in half and lost the right-hand corner altogether. They included a note of apology reminding me of the billions of pieces of mail they handle and that sometimes these things happen. I can see them now... "Oh, we haven't screwed anything up on this street lately... let's let our friendly rotweiler enjoy this piece as a chew toy for a bit."

- An exchange between me and Aleesha:
A: I think you should get in your car and come see me and hang out and go to Target.
M: That sounds like a terrific idea.
A: But...
M: Nope. No but. I'm walking out the door now. Oh, Tucker is meowing. I feel so bad. I left him alone all day. I even told him I'd be home for lunch today but then Bob came in and suggested going to Red Lobster and I wasn't about to be like, "Oh, well I'd promise Tucker I'd come home."
(And I did leave him to go to Aleesha's. I love the cat, but I also love that cats can be left home alone all day and be fine aside from a bit of understood loneliness.)

- Another exchange between me and Aleesha:
A: I'm really craving some raw mushrooms right now.
M: gave Aleesha a weird look
A: No, not THAT kind!

-Tucker always climbs up on my chest after I hit snooze the first time on my alarm in the mornings so that he can rub his head under my chin and purr and convince me to pet him when I really want to go back to sleep. This morning when I tried to sit up to get out of bed he clung to my shoulders with his paws, not wanting to get down. It was cute. I think this was because I'd left him alone all day yesterday. Kitties miss their moms.

- Driving to work I was listening to the radio and caught a few lines of Ben Harper's "Better Way" that go: "Reality is sharp/It cuts at me like a knife/Everyone I know/Is in the fight of their life." Oh Ben Harper... so true, so very true. So true it made me laugh. (Granted, it's a really good song about standing firm in your dreams and going after what you want... but hearing those lines made me laugh today.)

Hope you're all finding reasons to laugh and have some joy in the midst of your life today.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Getting Back to It

I haven't ran since the marathon except for one short 3-mile run the week after. Yes, I feel terrible about this. But at the same time, I always require a few weeks off after a marathon. I have to have some time to myself to take a little break. Should I want to go right back into marathon training such a break would be a bad idea, but I'm not so it's ok if I lose a bit of my endurance.

I'm hitting the treadmill again tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it. It's time. Of course, it means I need to shave my legs tonight (something I don't do quite as often in the winter unless I need to wear shorts to the gym because other than that, what's the point, right ladies?). It also means finding out how my lungs, muscles and heart have fared with a couple of weeks off.

I really intended to go back last week. But then I got sick and who can run any length of distance when your nose is running and you've got a sinus headache?

You may wonder what I've filled my time with since I haven't been at the gym as much as usual. Well, first I just needed a week to recover. Then it was the holidays and I had a whirlwind of family gatherings, a wedding to be in, and dinners with friends in from out of town to tend to. And then I got sick and laid around on the couch watching Grey's Anatomy. I did see three movies since the beginning of the year which is kind of like a record for me. I don't usually go to the movies that often. I've seen National Treasure 2, Juno, and The Great Debaters. I recommend them all.

It's been a nice break, but it's time to start thinking about the Tom King 1/2 in March as well as the Nashville 1/2 that'll I'll be running with Team Mercy in April. Don't worry... I've got a full marathon in the back of my head that I may run in the fall, but I'll keep you posted.

Looking forward to being sore after tomorrow's first real run. It's a good kind of sore. (But then again, check back with me on Tuesday about that one.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ouch!

I woke up around 3am this morning with what I've always heard referenced as a "charley horse." I probably experience 2-3 of these per year, and they always come when I'm sleeping. Weird. Usually I get them in the middle of some serious marathon training, but I never had one when training for Huntsville. I think that maybe this one was delayed from all of that training.

I always wake up like 3 seconds before it really starts. I can feel it coming. The agony hits me before the actual pain does. This time it was in my right calf. It feels like the calf is pulling itself inward and knotting up in one central spot, and it takes about 30 seconds to pass. The thing is that I KNOW I should get up and stand on it to help work it out, but when it's 3am and you're in your nice warm bed who wants to do that?

So I writhe in pain. Tucker meows a bit and stands up, confused as to why I'm suddenly awake when it's clearly not time to get up. Once it passed I found myself remembering the last time I had one. It was before the Nashville marathon in April when I was living in my apartment. I felt a little bit nostalgic... not so much over the charley horse from back then, but more from remembering living in that place and being in that spot in my life. It was a good time. Not that things aren't good now... they are... but I've found myself a bit restless lately. I've had a lot on my mind. So remembering that time in my first apartment all to myself and training for that race and everything else going on in my life brought me a smile. Yes, smiling in my bed at 3am. It was a happy time. I had a great sense of satisfaction in life. And seriously, it's not that these things aren't true now... it's just that now I feel like I'm supposed to be doing something new and I haven't been able to figure out what exactly that is yet. It'll come to me in time... it always does. And then I'll do it and go back to not have a million thoughts swirling in my head at 3am, ha.

Inevitably, I realized I needed to go to the bathroom before I could go back to sleep. So I stood and almost fell down. The charley horse was gone, but my calf felt tighter than it does post-marathon finish line. I limped to the bathroom, limped back, and curled back up with Tucker and fell back asleep.

My calf feels a little sore. Maybe this is my body telling me it's time to hit the gym again. I always take some time off after a marathon, but the holidays are over now and my body is rested so I better get back to it.

Next race: Tom King 1/2 Marathon in March and then the Nashville 1/2 Marathon in April. Let me know if anyone is interested in joining me for either! I promise the charley horse's you might wake up with are not SO terrible. Sometimes they're just what you need to get your mind thinking... more to come on the thoughts going through my head these days.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Funny Pictures

I couldn't resist. I've caught on to this LOLCATS phenomenon. icanhascheezburger.com

This one looks just like my cat Tucker... except for the sweater, of course.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Fun with Finances

Today I met with my financial advisor. I almost feel silly saying such a thing. What gal in her mid-20s has a financial advisor? Well, that'd be me.

Somewhere along the way I've learned to be fairly financially responsible. I buy things I want, I make very few impulsive purchases, and I like to save for big trips and other fun things. Oh, and I pay the bills.

Last year I realized that it made so much more sense to take the money I was saving and put it into accounts that will earn much higher interest than my regular bank accounts. I honestly don't know much about the ins and outs of mutual funds and stocks and bonds and things of the like. But I do trust the guy that handles my accounts to tell me what I need to know in a way that makes sense. Thus, I have a Roth IRA for my retirement savings, some mutual funds for my long-term but needed before retirement savings (like new car or new house money), and my basic money market for the good ole emergency fund and fun, easy-to-access money. I feel pretty good about it.

I say all this because I want to encourage any of my dear readers to take some time to do the research and make sure you're being smart with your money. I can't say I've got it all figured out. I don't live by some strict budget I've developed in Excel, although I do have a pretty good grasp on my monthly expenses, what I like to save monthly, and how much I can spend on fun things. I certainly don't have any great investing advice. But my advisor guy is always saying how smart it is to start making some investments in your 20's. If nothing else, the interest I earn on my money market is twice what I was getting at my bank savings account. Who's going to turn down extra cash for just having money sitting there?

Go. Invest wisely. Reap the rewards when you have what you need for an emergency/new car/down payment on a home/trip to Europe. I'm confident you'll be glad you did.

Monday, January 7, 2008

On Writing.. and entertainment... and feelings in general

Forgive me if I jump all over the place with this one. My thoughts are jumpy today.

I haven't been feeling well for the past 4-5 days due to some sinus troubles inflicted by this crazy TN weather that's jumping all over the place. Remember my 11 degree morning last week? We're hitting 70 today. Insane.

I was so congested Saturday night that I didn't sleep well, so I spent most of yesterday on the couch. Many people who know me well know two things: 1) I aspire to have a career in writing someday; and 2) I don't usually watch tons of tv.

Over the past two months or so, I have been watching all of the seasons of Grey's Anatomy on DVD. I watched a few episodes yesterday, and I'm now down to only having about 10 episodes in season 3 left. (I actually started watching it on tv this season.)

A lot of people who aren't interested in this show make mention of it being a doctor soap opera revolving around the romantic aspects of the characters' lives. I suppose technically this is true, but the writer in me sees SO much more.

There's a reason why so many of us become obsessed with music, movies, or tv shows. Sometimes it's unhealthy, true. But I think that in some ways it's all a part of this big human experience. Nothing can take the place of the real people in our lives, but sometimes our friends and family can't relate to something we may be experiencing. However, we're not alone. Someone somewhere has likely experienced the same thing. And I think that our entertainment sometimes captures the essence of those experiences in a way that we can relate to... in a way that maybe offers us some better understanding of what we think and feel...

So last night I was thinking about grief. If you don't want to know what goes on in season 3 of Grey's, then don't read this next part. Over the past 10 episodes, Izzie loses her fiancé, George loses his dad, Meredith loses her mom and almost her own life... of course death is part of any "doctor show" on tv, but the beauty I see in this one is how well the writers have been able to paint a picture of how different people deal with grief.

Izzie lies for hours on the bathroom floor before finally changing clothes and going into a baking frenzy. George slips into a state of denial and then gets married on a whim. Meredith insists to everyone that she's fine and throws herself into work.

Whether it's grief or joy or anything in between, we all deal with it differently. I think it's pretty fantastic that we can see examples of that in our entertainment. There's a reason why some of us tear up when we watch certain things on tv or in movies... it's because we get it. We identify with it. We know what it feels like. The same is true for laughter.

I got to thinking about the times when I've dealt with loss. I'm not like Meredith - it's hard for me to just distract myself. I'm not like George - I'm probably less likely to do something on a whim if I'm upset about something. I'm probably more like Izzie... prone to picking a spot and staying there, turning over every feeling in my mind and heart before finally picking an activity I enjoy and doing it to help get through the day.

The last time I was truly blue over something, I found myself popping in my Friends DVDs. That's absolutely my favorite show, and I love how it ALWAYS makes me laugh. They say that when you're sad, that being able to laugh will help you to begin to feel happier. I think that's true.

And what do I do when I'm happy? I sing. I dance around in front of the mirror. I have a bounce in my step. I smile for no real reason at all. And I laugh a lot. The good news? I think life is certainly full of ups and downs, the moments with bounce and the moments spent laying on the bathroom floor... but all in all, I think in my life I have more of those bouncy moments. And that makes me smile no matter how sick I might be feeling.

This would be a good time to tie back in how all this evolved just from watching a few Grey's episodes, but I think you get my jist. Thanks for reading these random thoughts today.

Friday, January 4, 2008

A New Toy

So I got a new computer!

Ok, it's not really mine. My computer at home is still humming merrily along and serving all of my computer needs. (I think it heard me mentioning that I want a Mac and decided to behave itself in order to prevent an untimely death.)

It's a new computer at work!

Ok, so it's not really even new. It's the Bob's computer that he had been using. He got a new one.

BUT! It works easily and does everything I want it to and when I want it to! No more staring at an hour glass waiting on it to do something.

Although, we've been having some issues with the new server Bob also bought and therefore this week has been a bit crazy.

The point is that once all the kinks are worked out with the new system, everything should run much more smoothly around the office. It makes me so happy when things just work and work quickly to boot.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Cold

Yesterday we started out at around 17 degrees. I heard on the news last night that the high reached 25. It was the lowest high we've had since Xmas Eve 2004, or something like that. Not to start some big thing here, but is anyone else wondering how the global warming stuff can be true when it's getting colder than usual? I mean, I'm just saying...

And the getting colder only continues. Today we started out at a mere 11 degrees. ELEVEN. I realize it's much colder in other places of our beautiful earth, but here in Tennessee we're not so fond of 11 degrees. I'm not much of a morning person to begin with... it usually takes me a good 30 minutes (and a Dr. Pepper) to really wake up. But finding it THIS cold first thing in the morning does not please me.

I can't be sure because sometimes my memory isn't as sharp on stuff like this as it is with other details, but I'm thinking we're starting off one of the coldest winters we've seen in a while. I must admit - I am so glad I'm done with school and not having to trek across MTSU's campus in this kind of weather anymore. Now I can usually manage to spend very little time walking around outside in single digit wind chills, and this makes me happy.

I don't mean to be so grumpy. I'll adjust in a few days and find some new joy in the snow flurries and wind. The first cold days are just always such a shock to me, and they always play horrible games with my sinuses. This is really just my antihistamine/decongestant writing.

Hope you're staying warm. Feel free to send me some thermal underwear. I might need some if it keeps getting colder.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

I could write a blog telling you all about my New Year's Eve (more quiet than usual, spent in the company of dear friends with good food and champagne). I could write a blog telling you about goals for the new year (more races, saving some money to take some more trips, writing some stuff). Or I could even write a blog about dreams and hopes for this year and years to come.

But all of that seems a little cliché to write about on the first day of 2008. Instead, I want to share a portion of the lyrics from a Regina Spektor song called "On the Radio" that's been in my head for the past week or two. I think they are fitting words to reflect on here at the change of another year. In a lot of ways, I think these lyrics are like a little window into my own heart as well as the hearts of many other people I know who are trying to make it through life in this crazy world the best that they can. I only hope that I'm able to give to others in the new year as much as so many people give to me.

This is how it works
You're young until you're not
You love until you don't
You try until you can't
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath
No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else's heart
Pumping someone else's blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don't get harmed
But even if it does
You'll just do it all again