I have mentioned before that I hate reading books because reading books is for dopes and staying up until 11:35 p.m. reading your Twitter feed is the way to go. But then, after a steady decline over the last decade, I realized that I read maybe four books in 2013 and felt sad. I was previously the type of person who always had my face in a book. I hid novels during English class in high school in the books we were reading for class.  I remember road trips as a kid by what books I was reading that kept me from wanting to get out of the minivan to do things. I was so well read by the time I went to college, and then PFFFTT (deflating balloon sound), here I am at four books.

2014 is the year I bring it back. I have challenged myself to read a book a month. And so far I have. I have had a couple of softballs, and was already reading the book I finished in January, but it feels good to be in that habit and I have read some good stuff this year.

January: House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. Age of Innocence is one of the books I read last year and loved it. HOM was pretty great, too. I haven’t read much from that time period (when they’re set and when she wrote them). Wharton is funny (I guess “a wit” is more appropriate) and the stories were sad and fascinating and seemed scandalously honest about things. AOI didn’t end how I thought it would, which I appreciated.

February: Also Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume and New School by Dash Shaw. Blume’s book probably shouldn’t count, but it does here this year. I didn’t realize it until I reread it how much of a cultural touchstone that one is with me. I, like all girls, cite Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret? as the book from my youth, but I like this one more. New School is a year-book sized graphic novel (though novel is stretching it since it’s more pictures than words). I really liked it. It took a few nights to get through but I could see reading it again.

This is not the cover of the version I read as a child but this one has Hitler and Ethel Merman on it.

This is not the cover of the version I read as a child but this one has Hitler and Ethel Merman on it.

March: Heartburn by Nora Ephron. I took out The Most of Nora Ephron from the library and read a lot of essays and even the screenplay to When Harry Met Sally. Heartburn is like a less-intellectual Fear of Flying (which I also reread last year) and was very light and fun (plus heavy marriage stuff, but still light and fun). I’m glad I finally read her work. I also watched Silkwood since Ephron wrote the screenplay, and liked that a lot. I’m late to the Ephron party, but I’m here. She’s not, though. R.I.P.

April: Running In the Family by Michael Ondaatje. Richard picked this up for me because it’s nonfiction and touches on post-Colonialism, two things that I like in books. This is a memoir packed with poetry and assumed memories about life in Sri Lanka. Quick and interesting. Good job, associate.

May: Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Stephen Levitt. The Freakonomics podcast is one of my favorites, and I finally got to the book. A lot of the chapters have already been touched on the podcast, but still held my interest. I think about the parenting and the crime rate chapters a lot.

June: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I can’t read this fast enough. READING IS AMAZING.

Even if I don’t meet the goal (which there is no reason why I shouldn’t) I’ve still read more books than I did the last couple of years. I’ve even been reading instead of burning through the latest season of Mad Men up on Netflix. That is an amazing show of self control.

Here are some things people often say to my daughter:

“Look at all that hair!”

“You’re getting so big!”

“Ana or Elsa?”

“Do you want to go to timeout?”*

It would be funny to talk to grown women the way we talk to pre-school aged girls. Can you imagine meeting up with a friend and saying any of those things?

This is not meant to be a meaningful post, I just think it’s a funny idea.

 

*Okay, I say that.

 

 

 

To me and her dad:

“Did you know about burritos?”

What she will do if her friend pulls her hair again:
“I’m going to punch him dead in the nose.”

When eating pancakes:
“I cut them out of an old blanket.”

(That is from a Peanuts strip. It’s what Violet says when Charlie Brown asks if she made the pancakes she served him).

When listening to “She Loves You”

“She does not! She doesn’t love you.”

While giving her dad a pat on the head:
“Dixie Donuts is closed. But it will be open tomorrow.”

On someone being from Wales:
“I’m from Sharks.”

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our snowman.

I completed my first half marathon last weekend, which sounds a lot better to me than “I’m going to run a half marathon.” Although I got a good start on training for it, because of a leg injury, a cold, and the Affordable Care Act website, I wasn’t able to train as well as I should have. Seven miles was my previous longest run before setting out on 13.1 miles. I was nervous going in, and after hitting the 10k mark on the run, I really wanted to stop, and I walked/ran the second half. I finished in 2 hours and 34 minutes, which is pretty good considering I walked so much of it toward the end. I thought to myself “I hate this. I am never doing this again” around mile 7, but around mile 11 I thought “I should probably do this again so I can do better.”

Some tips from me to you:

Get shoes that fit

Part of my leg issues are probably due to picking out shoes on my own.  My previous running shoes were purchased at a running store with help from an expert. But they were ugly and I wanted cute shoes. So I picked cute(r) shoes and immediately I started having leg pain, and I dismissed it as just something else and definitely not the most obvious thing. Stretching, pilates, and running on the road and not the sidewalk all helped ease the leg pain.  I ran through it for almost all year until my shoes got holes in the toes. It was too late to get new shoes before the run, so I went back to my old running shoes, but it took a while for the leg pain to stop when I ran. I also stopped running as much on the road since the route I usually go has uneven pavement. I’ve been running on a soft dirt track, and that’s also better on the old stems.

Do not put “Thriller” on your playlist

I run throughout the week with Bunk, and when we set out in the am it’s usually dark, and we run by the place where the “Thriller” video was filmed (or some creepy place just like it) and just thinking about “Thriller” scares me, and not being comfortable with running in the dark anyway kept me from running a couple of times.

I made a good playlist to run to (I only listen to something when not with my dog) but I get bored with it, and prefer podcasts to keep my mind off thinking about how much I don’t want to be running. And if you read this blog with any regularity, you know that all I want to do is talk about and recommend podcasts. Like Analyze Phish. So funny.

But if you prefer music, I suggest Bombay Bicycle Club’s “Shuffle” on repeat, with Passion Pit’s “Carried Away” to break it up. I did listen to music for the last two miles of the run and MGMT’s “Kids” and U.N.K.L.E.’s “Nursery Rhyme” did bring me to the finish line feeling a little more badass than a Marc Maron interview would have.

Do not eat all the time

When I first started training I doubled the number of miles I ran a week in a few weeks, and because I didn’t want to lose weight I couldn’t keep off because I wouldn’t run as much post-race, I started to eat a lot of Peanut M&Ms during the day. So don’t do that. I should actually be pretty fit right now, but I’m not.

Don’t make fun of the musicians

I don’t know what the application process is to be a cover band that plays on the street during the big races around town, but I’m assuming there is no screening. I was immediately irritated with the first band I ran by and whatever dumb, baby boomer song they played. Then I ran by a high school kid and his guitar and it seemed to me that only high school bands should play things like this because otherwise there’s no excuse to be so terrible. But also, if you’re not there to play loud, fast songs then why bother? After coming up with a list of good jokes against the musicians who volunteered, I realized that I hadn’t even run a mile yet and I thought about how much I was running / did not want to run for the next 13 miles.  Then I felt bad for thinking poorly about those who take the time to support people who run for no reason outside of themselves. While the half marathon is not a spectator or band-heavy route, it was still nice to see the supporters who were there handing out drinks and making noise. Even if the noise is the crappy music, which only motivates people to run faster to get that mess out of earshot. Thanks, though.

Wear your medal

This run (which has an 8k, half, and full marathon) gives medals to the participants. I accidentally got the marathon medal, and by the time I realized it I was too far away to go replace it. I haven’t worn it since I got it, but I now feel like every chance I don’t take to wear my huge medal in public is a wasted moment. To  people who only did the 8k and keep brushing it off because an 8k doesn’t sound like a big deal: it is a big deal. I’m trying to pump myself up to get out of bed early and walk/run two miles with Bunk in the morning. It can be a challenge to get going, so any miles done are good ones.

Good job runners, and thanks to Richmonders for putting up with all the road closures and Saturday errand-ruining so we can do things like this.

Also:

  • On my morning runs I saw a fox, many deer, a raccoon, bunnies, and a couple fighting in the street.
  • I love running across the Boulevard Bridge. It’s beautiful.
  • I got this the night before the half marathon and it was a life-saver. I would have worn a jacket and that would have been miserable (it’s a magnetic pouch that fits over pants to carry small items).
  • Big hooray for my dad and father-in-law for also running. So  many grandpas up in our house this weekend!
  • The bananas in the post-race food tents are the best bananas on earth.

My daughter has gone from having no Thomas and Friends things to only Thomas and Friends things so quickly that I think I must have passed out and missed the last few weeks because I’m not entirely sure how that happened.

My associate and I have tried to keep her away from the Disney Princess thing not because I don’t like Disney movies with Princesses in them, but I hate the marketing of it and the merchandise is really boring and uninspired.  We were so busy being anti-princess stuff that we were sort of blindsided by Thomas.

I didn’t want any branded stuff for my child at first but that was before she actually liked things. The $3 bottle of bubble bath with Thomas on it made her so happy, so it was hard not to then but the $1 cup at Target or the $5 tiny train. She loves watching the shows, and Thomas and Friends is something that her school chums like a lot, too. For her birthday we thought we were only selectively mentioning Thomas to people, but she is now decked out in Thomas gear (wall decals, blankets, neck tattoo, books).

I don’t really like to watch any of the shows she likes unless it’s Nick Jr (I think Wonder Pets is super delightful), and I think Thomas is not great. He messes up in every story, and the lesson is either you can get away with anything OR that you can make mistakes and your friends will still love you. But my daughter loves the mess out of Thomas (and Percy and Henry and Mavis)(but she thinks Diesel is scary). She even learned a joke from the show (What do you call a train that has a cold? Achoo-choo train!) and cannot make it any more known how funny it is to her that a line in the Thomas book is “with a peep and a poop.”

She also said “Thomas is making his ‘Kelly face’” at this picture:

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The ‘Kelly,’ everyone.

I hope more than anything that my nephew loves Thomas eventually because he has about 8 boxes of this junk coming his way. Toot toot!

What my Camera Roll looks like now that I let my child use my phone unsupervised.

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I’ve only had my new phone for a month, and she knows how to use it about as well as I do. I love those one-second forehead videos.

The title sounds like the name of a Modcloth accessory.

My raised bed, which I built with my own hands and feet, did well this summer. I got a few dinner’s worth of green beans, a lot of potatoes (I already had the potato patch and that usually does well), and couple of zucchinis and cucumbers. The zucchinis ended up rotting at the root, and I think that was due to not enough soil/a lot of rain, so I pulled them (no big loss as I’ve decided that other than this recipe I don’t care for zucchini). And I’ve started planting for the fall (more beans , broccoli, swiss chard, and later more of all plus kale and brussel sprouts).

A bunny showed up in the squash plants, and I thought it would eat everything and sort of wanted Bunk to kill it but I think it was just hiding. We enjoyed watching it run around in the mornings, and it ran under the fence when Bunk spotted it. After I pulled out the zucchini plants it was hiding somewhere else and Bunk found it and killed it. I attempted to stop it, but it happened very quickly (rabbits scream, by the way). So that was kind of sad, but the rabbit knew that Bunk was there and still hung around instead of in dogless yards. Nature is complicated.

Oh well.

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Bunk (L) and garden (R)

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