Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Things That Make Me Anxious #1

So there are things in life that make us all anxious...sometimes they are odd things. Here is an odd thing that makes me anxious:

Finding seats for people in a crowded room.


This happens a lot. An example is when in a theater, and it's, say, an opening night for a popular movie. We try to get there early to get our favorite seats, which is the very back row, in the middle. Once planted, everything is fine. I have no stress factor whatsoever.

However, when the seats start to fill, my eyes start seeing the empty seats and it becomes a game of tetris.

A party of four, there are four seats there, there and there. Uh-oh, that looks like seven or eight teens...let me re-count. OK. That is eight...that's going to be tough...ah, there seems to be eight seats right there.

Once it's really full and the empty seats are harder to see, full anxiety sets in. Three people come in and they can't see anything but I've been noting the empty seats all along. I try to make eye contact so I can direct them to the seats. I am oblivious to my family around me because my duty is to get non-seated people into seats. Of course, no one will ever see me and, the one thing I don't do, is stand up to direct anyone to seats...unless they get close to the back for me to be acknowledged. This anxious time will continue until the lights go out and I just give up.

Now, it doesn't only happen in the theater. At work, there are a couple of meetings I attend that fill up. Here, I CAN direct people to chairs. And fortunately, but surprisingly, not always, there are people who tend to the chairless.

Yesterday there was one such meeting. For some odd reason, people don't sit next to each other and fill these chairs up...and still do the "I'm going to sit one chair away from this person". Which then gives the illusion that there are no chairs, when the room gets full. But, because I'm this weird person that is hyperaware of empty seats, I know where the empty seats are. In fact, I do the prairie dog bob and look for empty seats in the room, DURING THE MEETING, when I start seeing people entering the meeting (minutes late...which is the MO at our company).

So back to yesterday, but similar to other yesterdays, people come in a few minutes late, then stand right by the door, or start sitting on the floor. This makes me crazy with anxiety. THEY CAN'T POSSIBLY BE COMFORTABLE OR STAND THERE FOR AN ENTIRE HOUR!! THIS CAN'T BE!!!

So I stare at them until I get their attention. Usually, the person next to me stares back and I then look at them and say "I can't stand it. It gives me anxiety until they sit." Then that person laughs and then the attention goes back to the meeting.

If the non-chaired person stares back at me, I then point them to the next available chair. If they don't, I then get the attention of the seated person next to the non-chaired person, THEN I point them to the next available chair.

Yesterday, I took it a step further. I tapped the person near me, made him get an empty chair, move it to a closer place, then get the non-seated person, and escort her to the chair. I think I like that process better. That made her think: what a gentleman this guy is. And I'm sure that guy thought: she thinks I rock. And all because of me. I could care less that I didn't get credit for it...my anxiety was relieved and that lady is comfortable, and that guy felt good.

Now maybe he'll do it on his own next time. I've just paid it forward.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Running, Fractured Toes, and the Mad Dash to La Guardia

Brooklyn view from my hotel room
I was in Brooklyn the last days of April (27-30) for a work related conference. It was, as expected, amazingly awesome. NYC is my second home, after three visits.

Upon my return, like, IMMEDIATELY setting foot at RDU, I noticed I had to start adjusting my gait because my right big toe hurt. Uh-oh, I think to myself. I recognize this pain. This is similar to the pain I had in 2009, when I had a stress fracture on my LEFT foot. I ran through it, not knowing it was a stress fracture, and now, I was thinking: has this been going on and I've been running through it? No. I've had pains everywhere else BUT my right big toe.

I didn't do that much walking in Brooklyn, which, coincidentally, I think - a conference in LA - aided in the stress fracture of my left foot in 2009 (I was in heels and walked A LOT on tired runner's feet). So WHY NOW?

The only thing I could think of was the mad dash to La Guardia.

We (my colleague and BFF, Sam) had a flight back to RDU from JFK at 2:55. At 2:15, we were told the flight was canceled. Not postponed. CANCELED. Fortunately, technology for me was faster than everyone else at the airport, including Sam, as I received the text message quite a few seconds before anyone else, and managed to get us to the front of the gate check-in (second, specifically) before it was announced to the waiting passengers.

I heard the "friendly" (sarcasm) airline employee tell the old lady in front of us that the next flight available to RDU was at 9:30 at La Guardia. All flights at JFK to RDU were canceled. Of course, the next question is always: can't you find something earlier? And for some reason, they do...he found a 6PM at La Guardia...but only one. And she took it.

We're next. We get the same spiel. I ask the same question. He says no. I ask for the 6pm flight. He says he gave away the last ticket. So I said Book It Dano (not really, since I was feeling very festive).

Sam is not happy. It's 2:45ish now. 9:30 is a long time away. And when you're ready to go home, you're ready. But I knew my next step was to call my company's travel department because, I just don't believe nor trust airline employees. Surely, there is a flight out of JFK, or something sooner than 9:30.

The sweetest, most patient person was on the phone, despite me yelling (not angrily) WHAT? CAN YOU REPEAT THAT? over the loud noises of intercoms at JFK. But she did confirm that there were no flights out of JFK...however, there IS a flight leaving La Guardia at 4:30. Maybe you can catch that?

Well, despite NYC being my second home, I've lived near, and have worked in Cary, NC, for over 18 years, and I still can't manage that town without my GPS...how on mother nature's green earth do I know if I can make it to La Guardia from JFK, at now 3PM to a 4:30 flight in La Guardia?

The sweet voice was like: I think you can make it and I was like: let's do it.

So it was a race out of the airport, after I told Sam what we had. I ran along Sam's fast walk and STILL could not keep up. And how lucky was I that I did NOT check in my bag, as I usually do.

We were on one end of the airport, running (well, I was) to the ground transportation area. Once there, the line for taxis was way too long, and we were told that the bus to La Guardia would not get us there in time. So I flagged down those illegal "taxis" that solicit near the "no soliciting" signs and asked how much to La Guardia. He said "$17". I repeated "$17?" and he corrected "$70". Seventy? I repeat back? and I'm thinking: WTF am I repeating back - let's go!

The whole drive my friend Sam is like: we will not make it. we are never going to make it. I am unusually calm. I have faith in mr. illegal taxi man. In a line of traffic, Sam asks: what time do you think we'll get there? He says: 3:30. She scoffs back: hahahahahaha! you are kidding? we will never make it.

And guess what? He got us there at 3:33. Security check-in was a breeze and naturally, our flight was just a tad delayed before we boarded the 4:30 flight.

So...when I had my right big toe examined by an ortho two weeks ago, he asked me what activities I had been doing that may have led to this toe injury. I explained the running-through-JFK event.

Doc: "What kind of shoes were you wearing?"
Me: "Wedged combat boots".
Doc (with a tone): "_Wedged_ _combat_ _boots_?"

It's the only pair I took with me! I packed light!

No fracture. Just a bruise, akin to a sprain. He told me to take two weeks off of running and do some hot/cold bath thing that i didn't do.

Run on Mother's Day - Lake Lynn
So last Mother's Day, I went for my first run. Started out great, but then an unforeseen emergency hit me that required me to turn around and get back home immediately. Nothing major. Just something that trails can't help a runner with.

And then this busy week kept me from my run routine so I went out today and had a kick-ass short run. BUT I can feel the toe. Is it pain? I don't know but I feel something. Will I run again on Tuesday. Yup. Let's see how this plays out...

In the meantime, this was my playlist on this lovely, cool but cloudy day, 61 degrees:
Dirty Laundry by Bitter:Sweet
Painted Faces and Long Hair by The Orwells
Cruci-Fiction in Space by Marilyn Manson
Ottoman by Vampire Weekend*
Normal Person by Arcade Fire
Other Voices by The Orwells
Target Audience by (Narcissus Narcosis) by Marilyn Manson
Safe & Sound by Capital Cities
Breezeblocks by Alt-J**
Sunday Morning by Velvet Underground*
Loud Pipes by Ratatat*

* From a mixed CD that CJ put together for me for Mother's Day
** From a mixed CD that CJ put together for me for Xmas

Mixed CDs from my daughter are the best. She also introduced me to The Orwells.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Broke the Curse

I finally did it. I made it to a race I paid for.

For the past two years, I've signed up for several races and on race day? A no show. I really didn't want to miss this one - the inaugural Rock and Roll marathon in Raleigh. And I just couldn't be sure if I'd show up until a few days before, when I was pretty sure I was ready.

"Ready" is a stretch. When my friends and I signed up, almost as soon as sign up for the race opened a year or so ago, we had visions of major training; being in tip-top shape by this point. My estimated time to finish was 1:50, a PR.

Fast forward to the last month before the race and, while I had been training, I started too late (January?). My long runs, starting at 8 miles, were crap. My legs just couldn't handle the long miles. While I ran two 10 mile long runs, I had not done more than that; I'd never made it to a 13.1 mile run. And these runs had a lot of walking involved. I think it was around the 9 mile training run that I decided to update my estimated finish time to 2:15.

Race day - April 13th. I'm feeling pretty good. Excited. Tim drops me off, which is great. Because this place is crowded - the race is sold out with 12,000 participants. That doesn't include everyone else helping with the race, including spectators.

Corral 13 - Looking ahead
I find my corral, #13. I can't find my friend Melisa. I think she decided to start in a faster corral. She could do it; she can push through pain.

I recognize my friends Joel and Erick and meet Erick's beautiful daughter. I notice a person from my work right next to me. I don't know her name; just someone I see at the gym. We chat a bit - she tells me she overslept and decided not to do the race. But at the last minute, she asked her husband to drop her off. She got there at 6:41. Race start time was 7AM. It was delayed but she didn't know that when she scooted over...

Corral 13 - Behind me
It took nearly 30 minutes for our corral to cross the start line. It felt great. I was going to keep a conservative pace. I wanted to run the entire race, or at least see if I could do it. Despite having walk breaks in my long runs, I've run a long time through those runs with minimal walk breaks. I thought that I could try to keep a slow pace and just run the entire 13.1.

The start of the run went great. So many spectators with wonderful signs. I loved it immediately. I usually don't like big races - too many people - so I don't get to see many people on the sidelines. This was really nice to see people cheering everyone on. And they *literally* were. One sign said "I'm so proud of all you strangers!" I couldn't stop thinking about that one. It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I would have really loved to see that sign within the last half of the 13.1 miles.

Band on the Bridge
I took pictures while I ran. I took several shots, hoping at least one wouldn't be blurry because I WAS running as I took pictures. Unfortuantely, at some point, I pushed something that made the rest of my pictures black and white and I did not have the brain power, nor the coordination, to figure out how to bring back color...so I was like "fuck it - black and white it is".

In these first few miles, I was sensing a lot of uphills. I knew there would be more, as I had run part of the race course with my friend Melisa a few weeks back. But I was feeling GREAT. The hills were not bothering me.

Running through the neighborhoods was great.
People were out with their kids, in their PAJAMAS, drinking coffee, cheering us on. Again, so nice. I thought about how nice it would be to live off the route so that you could do that. At one point, I passed a couple dressed in wedding garb. I think the woman's sign said "You caught us!" I can't remember. It just made me smile.

Lots of things were making me smile. And still, at this point, miles 3, 4, 5, I'm taking in each of those hills and seeing people around me walking. Wow. There are a lot of hills. I wondered what out of towers thought of this course. And I wondered what marathoners were thinking, having to start like this and having 20+ miles to go? Is Boston this hilly?

The bands were great. To be honest, I didn't feel like they were close enough. Were they really at every mile? I don't know. There was music, which helped, and the bands did help, when they were there. Counting helped. When does counting not help? It's my saving grace.

After passing mile 5, we are running up Peace Street. One of my miserable 8 mile runs, I ran the first four feeling spectacular, and as soon as I turned around for the final four, it was like an abrupt feeling of "yuck". Just like that. I thought: I made it to five, let's make it to six and I'm almost halfway there. If it all goes to shit then...well, I can manage.

Peace Street Holy Hell Hill
Well, it was shortly after passing mile 5, running up the rolling hills of Peace Street, where my legs were like "what the fuck? these hills?! seriously?" So I decide at the next water stop, I'll take a little break, fuck the 'no walk' plan. I have to give my legs a break. I have seven more miles to go. I go up yet another hill. And then down, and then? ANOTHER GOD DAMN HILL that was quite steep. I was done. My legs were like 'uh, no'. So the first walk came at the hill to Glenwood on Peace Street.

I started back to my run at the top of this hill but I think I walked again at the next hill. And when I got to the water stop, I didn't stop running because I wanted to cross the 10K line in a decent time. But once I crossed it (because it was hill to run to it), I walked UP that hill.

My legs were killing me. But I felt better after the water and the walk so I kept on moving. I was determined to get to the finish faster than walking would do, even if I had blown my 2:15 time. Whatever. 2:30 will work. 2:45 will work. Just let me finish.

It's around this time that, not only do I stop taking pictures, I stop looking at spectators. I had to dig down to just get myself to the finish. Take each mile and just go. Count them down. They're getting smaller. Then mile 7 comes. Nearly the entire mile 7 to 8 was just UP. I walked most of it. This was CRAZY.

Pointing to the walking (winning) marathoner
At mile 11, which was mile 24 for marathoners, the race folks were asking us to move to the left to let the lead runner have room. I wanted to get a picture of him, which was a great distraction for running up the hill that I was on. When he finally appeared, I had made it up the hill and turned to take a picture when I heard the race folks in the lead truck say "Wait. He's walking again." I looked, and yes, that poor guy was walking up that hill. And they said "AGAIN". Well, that is telling. Marathoners in the lead do not walk. This course is hilly. I cheered him on and screamed "It's HILLY!!" There would be more hills ahead of him, I would find out later.

I'm sure he's not happy that I caught this photo in his most humble minute but, hey, it proves a point about the hilliness of the course. It *is* beautiful though. I just needed to train better.

My pattern at the water stops was to get gatorade AND water. At this point, I didn't care what it would do to my stomach, being that this wasn't anything I did in training. In fact, I did no water during training. Yeah. That was stupid. I couldn't find my Nathan belt and never bought another one. And once I reached my 10 mile runs, I was like: well, they'll have water on the course, no need to buy one now.

It actually affected me well, the gatorade-water-walk pattern. I felt re-invigorated after that and would start running, feeling great...as great as worn out legs could feel. That would last until half of that mile and I'd feel tired again. But when I reached 12? I was like I GOT THIS! I'm going to finish this race!!

And I did. I ran that last mile like there was no tomorrow. Well, more like this sign I saw: "You run like dogs pulling (squirrels)." I don't even know if I was running that fast. But I was running - that's what I'm going to say.

I didn't have much in my legs to put in that last OOMPH to race to the finish. I just tried to stay upright and cross it. I did and almost instantly, I felt great again. I could walk OK. I searched for water and gatorade. The gatorade was warm :( but it didn't matter since I could get it opened. I found a banana and that was the best damn banana I've ever had.

I texted Tim to meet me at the Mickey D's by the auditorium. He got me and I asked for help for my gatorade. Apparently they have a foil cover. 'WHY DID THEY DO THAT TO ME?" I pleaded. He said "They didn't do that to you. They do this to every gatorade."

My finish time was 2:27:56. Yes. I would have love to done better. This is the very opposite of a PR...it's a WR - Worst Record. But I'm not bothered (maybe a teensy bit but truly, it's just teeny). I enjoyed the run despite having to fight through nearly 7 miles. But that's what makes me proud. I loved the spectators. I thought the race was set up wonderfully. And if I do it again, I have to train better. My finish time is all due to me and not training well. But I trained well enough to run 13.1 miles and THAT makes me happy.






Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Six Years by Harlan Coben

This was my first Harlan Coben novel. I had seen many reviews 'raving' about it and, my dad, step-dad and husband are fans of his, so I own nearly every book he's written...except THIS one. I decided to give this one a try after my goodreads book club had it on its list. I missed the start of it but, for the book club, it doesn't really matter.

The book is about a guy who goes to the wedding of 'the love of his life'. They had just broken up and suddenly, she is marrying someone else. Her last words to him is to leave her and her new husband alone. Do not ever contact them. It's over.

So he does.

Six years later, he sees an obituary for the man who married the woman of his dreams. When he attends the funeral, he notices that the widow is not the woman of his dreams, but someone else entirely. And so begins the 'investigation' as to who this woman is, where is Natalie (the woman of his dreams), and why was Todd murdered (he was).

Overall, the story was OK. I wasn't drawn in and anticipating the next moves, like "what the hell is going on???" I didn't get moved in that way. BUT I was pleasantly surprised at Coben's writing style, which was quite enjoyable and very much a style that I've read in other off-the-beaten path novels...not what I would have assumed a national, best-selling, put a book or two out every year kind of author would do. I mean no disrespect...it's just a perception, a stereotype I have. And believe me you, I am NO BOOK SNOB. I will read anything and everything and usually end up having to count on one hand the # of "books you should've read by now" or "books you have to read before you die" lists. But I see so many of his books on the shelves that I just had a pre-conceived notion that he couldn't be witty, light-hearted, and smart (in the way I think of it...not literal).

I enjoyed his Jake Fisher character immensely, and some of the others. The storyline, as I said, was just OK. That part, I think, was just a bit too mainstream for me, especially the ending. Maybe I've read to many fantasy and sci-fi novels, that I want something a little more titillating.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Silver Linings and Delusions

The past week has been an OK week, with regards to keeping active. The week of the "snowpocalypse", which was the week before last, I didn't do jack crap. Not a single workout.

The Sunday after the snow, I got ready to go on my run. The hardest part is just getting started but if I try not to think about it and just robotically put my running clothes on, then I'm almost there.

As I waited for my iPhone to charge, I heard the familiar sound that I had received a text message. I checked and it was my buddy Nancy, asking me if I was planning to run. How serendipitous. Whilst I didn't think I would make good company, seeing that I had not ran in a week's time, she decided I would do just fine.

We did an unbelievable six miles at Shelley Lake. And it went by fairly quickly. The pace was still a bit quick for my comfort but it was doable with a partner. I drove home feeling like a queen.

The rest of the week went well: I played my first wallyball (freeplay) game in nearly a year. Most of my friends know that *that* game is my favorite. I've missed it and, feeling out of the game, I found I fell right back into the groove. The following day was recreational volleyball and, again, another day of fun and a good workout.

I got both my runs in - Tuesday with my other friend Melisa (one "S") and Thursday was a solo run before the volleyball game.

Today I was scheduled for a 5K today (thank you Melissa - I'm using her training plan) . Since I am apparently suffering from race fright, I did this one on my own.

Murder Path
I decided I would walk to Lake Lynn and just start the race pace there. I took the murder path and a picture of it. What you can't see, although the picnic table is a close sign, civilization in the name of apartments are on either side of the trees. Of course, they can be seen in the winter. I am always prepared to scream bloody murder so that someone in those apartments will hear me. Whether they actually come and save me is a different story.

Once I got to the lake, I stretched a bit and was on my way. I tried not to start out too fast, thinking about how I can tend to do that in a race...but I did want to have a quicker pace than my normal 11+ minute miles that I do on the long runs.

As I ran their first mile, I was thinking: wow, I should slow down. I must be doing close to 10 mn/miles, or even sub. Once I got to the one mile mark, my RunKeeper app said I was doing 10:56. WHAT? That shit HURTS. I'm breathing fast, my thighs hurt. How can it be just a hair under 11 mn/miles?

Well, that must be because I went slow in the beginning. I've picked up the pace now...the second mile will definitely drop. Mile two: 10:54 mn/mile. OK. This is ridiculous. I was really booking then. WOW. I'm glad I didn't REALLY run a 5K. I was expecting to do 10 mn/miles today.

I know I quickened my pace even more when I felt like I was getting close to my 3.1. I'm thinking: geez - if I'm tired this quickly, how the hell am I going to manage 10 MORE of these miles?

I end with a 10:45 average pace overall. And I was beat. Sweatin' all over the place. I just started walking to cool down and get my heart rate down. Once I found a good spot, I stretched the shit out of my thighs, calves, feet, and hips. That felt good. But I was half a mile away from home...so that was going to be a long walk back.

My overall miles - temp 41:
First: 10:57
Second: 10:47
Third: 10:34

So, at least negative splits. Last week, I ran six miles at 10:54 average, with two walk breaks...but today felt HARD.

Fortunately, I changed my estimated finish time for the race from 1:50 (what the fuck was I thinking?) to 2:15. I told Melisa that I was pretty sure she was signed up for the same 1:50 pace. She didn't believe me until she re-read her emails. Ironically, her original estimated time WAS 2:15...and as she said, she changed it to be like $Bill and I.

My playlist, including the walk to and from the park:
Teeth - Cage the Elephant
Absinthe with Faust - Cradle of Filth
Addicted to Love - Alex & Sierra
Afterlife - Arcade Fire
All I Want for Christmas Is You - Alex & Sierra  *need to remove this one
All You Do Is Talk - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC)
Am I Only - BRMC
Angel with the Scabbed Wings - Marilyn Manson (MM)
Antichrist Superstar - MM
Awful Sound (of Eurydice) - Arcade Fire
Bad Girls - M.I.A.
Beat the Devil's Tattoo - BRMC
The Beautiful People - MM
Berlin - BRMC
Best Song Ever - Alex & Sierra
Bitin' the Bullet - Grouplove
Black Magic - Magic Wands
Black Mud - The Black Keys
Black Skinhead vs. Elephant - Kanye-Tame Impala mash-up

Oh one funny thing: I bought new running pants yesterday. There's a tag that says: hidden key pocket. I couldn't find it. I even had Tim look for it before I ran. No can find. It's that hidden. I finally saw it after I took them britches off.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King

As part of two book challenges in my goodreads book club, the Stephen King and Big Book challenge, this became my first of the Stephen King challenge of the year.

Before I start on my take of the book - no offense to my face-to-face book club - I love it. But this goodreads book club is stellar. How I was picked, I don't know (well, it has to do with my goodreads activity, which is pretty active) but it has opened up a whole new world in virtual book clubs. I tried to start one - and am still trying - but, yeah, no where is it close to what this book club can - and does - do.

It's a book club for women who love to read. The group spans across Canada and the US. There are a great number of book reads going on in one month that you can choose to participate in or not, and then the discussions are there to join in, or not. Also, there are other discussions about TV shows, introduce yourself, "Did you know" - which is along the lines of 'Did you know this unusual thing about me', anything at all, not related to books. And someone will always join in the discussion. It's a great, positive, immediate bond in friendship among a very large group (I have no idea how many there are in the group...hundreds?) of women. It is the epitome of an online community that is what Facebook can be without the flamers.

Within this variety of activities are several challenges that you can sign up for anytime. I signed up for the "Across the Map" challenge as soon as I joined (invited...by invitation only...which is why it's a small but large but small and active-participatory group), which is reading a book set in every state, province of Canada, and other countries that we end up reading.  I have 11 unique places; the Moral Instruments series took place in only one real place and well, Stephen King doesn't venture much out of Maine, so I may not get too far into my map challenge.

And now the Stephen King challenge - read 'all' of Stephen King's books. Well, we'll see but since I'm a fan, I'll be reading as many as I can...and re-reading quite a few more. And the Big Book challenge is reading books over 450 pages...not a problem with the SK challenge.

All of these are logged right on the site for all to see and admire. It's an introvert's, social network lover, book obsessor's dream.

So, to the book...with spoilers to come.

I saw the movie several years ago. And while I only remember vague bits of it, I remember being surprised and moved by the movie.

If you're a King fan, you'll love it. But if you're a King fan, you could hate it. If you're expectation is pure horror, similar to his other wonderful, odd works, well, you'll be sadly disappointed. If you, on the other hand, enjoy King's descriptive take into the minds of his characters, then you'll enjoy it.  It's a story. Plain and simple. Well. As plain and simple as the mind of Stephen King can be, which is, in my fandom opinion, is pretty cool.

The novel reminded me of Pulp Fiction: there are five sections that are separate stories BUT have a connection to each other. They also span several years: the first, 1960; second 1966; third 1983; and the fourth and fifth both take place in 1999. They start and stop with the same main characters.

Those main characters being Bobby Garfield and Carol Gerber. We meet them in 1960, as 11 year olds in the small town of Harwich, Connecticut. Bobby's mom is a bitter, strict woman who rents out her third floor 'apartment' to the mysterious Ted (played by Anthony Hopkins in the movie, who is all I saw in this character whilst reading).

Ted and Bobby develop a special friendship, including, the ability to read each other's minds. Ted hires Bobby to look for signs around the town, that the Low men in Yellow Coats are coming for him (Ted). These signs include: hopscotch drawings that include stars and moon next to them, or lost pet posters that have "call Iroquois", kite tails hanging from telephone lines, or the downtown clock ringing at odd hours. This was Bobby's job because these would be the sign that the Low Men in Yellow Coats were close to getting to Ted.

During this summer and the lookout for the signs, Carol and Bobby go through their own developing fondness for each other, as well as an act of violence against Carol that shows amazing heroism on Bobby's part. It's all a bizarre story but it gets worked out and in the end, Ted gets captured by the Low Men in Yellow Coats and Bobby and his mom move out of Harwich and Carol and Bobby eventually lose touch with one another.

In 1966, we meet Pete Riley at the University of Maine. He and several others live in Chamberlain Hall, where many were riding on a variety of scholarships and loans. All were in school and not in Vietnam. Flunking out meant almost a definite send off to the war, so keep them grades up and you'll be A-OK.

But no. What we have in this chapter are a bunch of boys who get addicted to the game of Hearts and, instead of studying, doing homework, or even going to class, end up playing Hearts constantly. Many start flunking out. And Pete and many of his pals are on the verge of flunking. And knowing the consequences, they still don't stop; can't stop.

Carol Gerber, from 1960, is Pete's girlfriend. We see them become the adults they become: Carol becomes an anti-war protestor; Pete manages to pull up his britches and get out of the Hearts addiction and get back to his education.

1983 we meet Blind Willie. This one was an odd one. Willie is a war veteran who comes into work dressed in a suit and tie. He greets folks pretty steely. Gets to his office, locks the door, crawls up into floor above, undresses, then dresses into another uniform, leaves _that_ office, greets folks very warmly, ends up in another building, goes into its bathroom, undresses in there, and puts on another outfit, and comes out as Blind Willie...where he panhandles for the rest of the day. And apparently, makes a lot of money...like thousands. As he does all of this, he recounts his days, especially THE day at the 'ville, where Ronnie Malenfant (who was a Hearts addict that flunked out of the University of Maine in 1960) and John-Sully (a BFF to Bobby Garfield and Carol Gerber, and eventually, a beau to Carol Gerber in high school) served with him.

In 1999, John-Sully goes to Blind Willie Shearman's funeral. There we learn the details of the tragedy of the 'ville in Vietnam. After a tragic shoot down by the viet cong of U.S. helicopters, and a few comrades also being killed, Ronnie Malenfant and others went crazy. So crazy that they went into one of the villages ('ville) and started killing the locals. John-Sully is haunted by one: the mamas an that Malenfant stuck a bayonet in. She has been following John-Sully for years and eventually, faded back but after Blind Willie's funeral, she is now sitting beside him in his car, on his way back home (there's the creepy King stuff). Then some real whacky stuff happens. And then, John-Sully dies.

The last part we finally get to see Bobby Garfield again. No one knows what's happened to him since he moved from Harwich. In fact, since Carol became an active anti-war protestor, she hasn't been seen either. The last known whereabouts is that she died in a house fire...a protest action gone wrong.

Bobby has come to John-Sully's funeral. He has a gift from Ted. Ted - who should be about 100-and-something years old. And with the Low Men in the Yellow Coats. But Ted is special. And not of this world. Bobby goes to the ball field where Carol consoled him, where the tragedy struck Carol, where John-Sully and he played baseball. And who joins him? Carol. But she's no longer known as Carol. Carol 'died' in the house fire. She has a new life. And it ends with them sitting together on the bench.

Whew. I summarized the entire book. I had to do that because, one day, I'll want to remember what the book was about and, well, I guess I did my wikipedia version.

I loved it. I want to see the movie again. I don't remember any part of the last four sections being in the book, so I think the movie is based on 1960. Don't tell me. Let me be re-surprised.

Monday, February 03, 2014

This Guy...

I made it small on purpose.

First: you can't really see him.

Second: it's his backside, so he's even more unrecognizable. I guess he might recognize himself. But to anyone else, he's just any other tall slender dark gray haired man with high waters.

Or is he a short guy, with black hair? Still in high waters.

Or an average height guy with brown hair? Can't get rid of them high waters though.

Regardless, I'm keeping him vague to protect the guilty.

My regular readers and friends will know that I am a recovering road rager. I'm doing pretty well with it, thanks for asking. I could say it's not easy, with the state of driving around me but it really has been OK. Not easy peasy but I am at peace with the dickhead drivers of the world.

I've also mentioned that my path to work includes a very pretty, meandering 'path' that drops from an easy 35 mph to a very slow 25 mph. It goes for a long drive of 25 mph. The state decided that, because there are houses along this pretty road, wild animals (because it's near forestry and parks), bicyclists, joggers, walkers, etc., that 25 would be the ideal speed for cars.

However, most drivers in said cars do not agree that 25 mph is a great speed limit and therefore, choose to go whatever speed suits them. I have seen my fellow work mates post FB posts about getting pulled over doing 45+ mph on these roads. Ewww. I'd hate to have that ticket.

People who live around these roads have put up signs asking, demanding, that cars slow down. My very own workplace security division often sends out reminders to the entire company about the speed limit in that very area, because THEY receive complaints from the 'hood and local police officials about how much speeding is done, mostly, by people from my company. How very embarrassing.

And I have, on numerous occasions, been a victim of people tailgating me because I am one of few law-abiding citizens who WILL do 25 mphs on that road. Early on, my blood pressure would quicken and I would want to tap my breaks, wave my hands at them, whatever...but eventually, I would just flip my rearview mirror into night view, so as not to see them so close to me.

And then even later, I found my Zen and can allow them to tail me without doing either of the above. I can simply ignore, without contempt, and carry on my merry way. This has saved more than one asshole from a ticket when we happen to come upon a cop, targeting speeders on that road. And you know what? No "thank yous" have ever been given to me for the gift I gave them.

But today...today I had a black SUV RIGHT ON MY BUMPER. At first, I was too busy jamming to my favorite band, Marilyn Manson, to really notice. But when I could only see mostly grill (I now drive a little Ford Focus), I thought: hmmm...this car is a little too close.

I gave it the benefit of the doubt. SOMETIMES, these cars are trying to adjust to the speed and quickly slow down and back off. Um...no. This one does not. So, to me, that means, it is making a point that it is angry with my speed and is showing me by riding on my butt.

Still...no elevated blood pressure. Instead, I dramatically get into the music: drumming, thumping my hands, shaking/nodding my head to the beat, so as to show that I could care less that it is on my ass.

It backs off eventually. I see a few cars behind it too. My driving 25, or anyone else, usually causes a chain of cars because, NO ONE seems to want to drive the speed limit. NOTE: there are other ways to get to my work, that is not out of the way, to avoid THIS route. So really, there is no excuse to drive this route if you DO NOT want to do the speed limit and enjoy the scenery AND keep folks not in cars safe.

When I pull into the campus that I work at, I don't see it. Hmm...it must not work here.

Nope. It ended up in my blind spot and quickly rounded me. When I say quickly, it was quite 'exaggerated'. It had to turn back into my lane since the left lane was closed due to construction...this was a dramatic move. I caught up to it and, what do you know, we are going in the same direction.

I decide: I'm going to follow it. I need to know who this fucker is. Man? Woman? I'm going to park right next to it. I know most folks at my work, being that I've worked there for 17 years...and the direction it was going in was where I worked for those 17 years.

Each turn it made was just...that same exaggerated move. Like it knew I was behind it. Good. It's feeling the pressure *of me* and it's trying to show off.

Imagine my surprise when it pulls into the parking deck that I usually park at...I follow...and it parks. I can't park right next to it...but I can park one car away. Then...I wait. It does not come out of the car. For awhile.

It's about 9:15 and I know I can wait this fucker out. I don't have a meeting until 10. It will NOT be able to sit in it's care until 9:55. Why should it? It's got to work. I've got a mission.

I stare at it's window. If it looks my way, it will know I'm waiting. So I decide to look at my phone to throw it off.

Finally, it comes out. It's a he. I get out. And I have no clue who this dude is. Never seen him in my life. He's smacking gum like a cow chews cud.

He walks but I then wonder if he knows what my deal is. I have all the confidence, cockiness and bitchiness all in me to just stare this guy down, whether he senses it or not.

We are going to the same building. I notice a side glance. Yup. He knows why I'm behind him. And I loved clicking my boots loudly, slowly, like from some thriller stalker movie, following behind him. I know how it feels to be followed and...'ogled' from behind. It's a very uncomfortable feeling.

When we get to the door, I see him struggle with: should I open it for her or not? In that split second indecision, he managed to stumble the door opening action and smacked it into his face. Oh sweet buddha. I was so happy. My job was done.

I never said one word. Didn't even look him in the eye.

So, I don't know if that counts as road rage. I was very calm. My blood pressure was fine, until the door smacked him in the face, then it escalated with elation.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Walk in the Park

Last week I asked the girls to take two (of our three) dogs for a walk around the lake while I ran it. Those lucky winners were Ricky and Brenna. I decided today I would take Lucy.

We started from the house since the lake is close by. I picked her up when crossing streets. She's not a dog that likes to be picked up. But these are busy streets and I didn't want to take any chances.

There's an apartment complex that has a nice pathway to the lake, which I always take, even though I feel like I'm going to get attacked and go missing. On our way to the path, I noticed a woman with two dogs approaching the path. I thought: please go first. please go first. Lucy is pretty high-strung and, despite being around kids, dogs and a cat, she is still anti-social.


But the nice lady decided to chat and introduce her pup, Hannah, who rolled over and over, excited to meet a new friend. Lucy was on high alert and it probably didn't help that I was too. As we meandered onto the murderous path, Lucy looked very, very timid and was looking at me like: where the hell are you taking me? Do you see how dangerous this path is? But she kept on...as long as she was on the asphalt, which was pretty narrow due to all the leaves. It wasn't too bad walking on the leaves...

Once we got to the lake, she seemed to get her bearings and had a nice bounce in her gait. When we got to the first bridge, I stopped so she could see the ducks. She looked, which was so cute, but then climbed up on me, like, "let's get moving". So we move on. On the second bridge, I stopped to take a picture of her looking at the ducks.

Before we left, I asked her to look at me, hoping she'd climb up so I could get a picture of that. Instead, she did something even better. She posed.

Isn't she adorable? You would never think this dog could growl at you as you nudge your foot, while she's lying at the end of the chair with you. Or that she has a felony record.

I noticed that there were *a lot* of runners. Why? Because it was a gorgeous day. And the weather was perfect. A great day to run. Well, I'm still glad I got my run in yesterday so I could take the dog out for such a long walk (for her). It was Lucy's day: I let her sniff everything she wanted and give the death stare to all the passing dogs.

There is still a lot of ice left in our lake. For those not familiar with Raleigh, OUR LAKES DO NOT ICE UP. This lake is pretty wide too, so to have any ice is pretty strange. This is a nice picture of the lake on one side, where you can see the water line vs. the ice line:

When we got to one end of the lake, you could see the ducks standing on top of the ice:

And a close-up:

I was worried I'd see one stuck in the ice...

Little Lucy was losing steam. But every so often, she'd turn to look at me, which was just adorable. I tried to get a picture of her doing it but this is the best I could do.

I decided not to go the via the murder path back to the hacienda and went up Lynn Road, which is a major roadway. This was a bit daunting for Lucy with all the cars racing by us. Again, she would not move from the center of the sidewalk, also slightly narrowed by leaves. I saw a runner coming towards us and could NOT get her to move towards me. I had to apologize to the runner, who had to scoot by this 15 lb. dog who would not budge.

Just a few feet from the major crossing, Lucy sat down. That is her cue that she's done walking. I picked her up and carried her, crossed the road, and put her back down to see if she would continue. She did. We made it back in one piece (no attack on the murder path). Here's another habit I'd like to keep doing.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Endurance Not Speed

My first post of the new year. It's been awhile. Let's make this a habit.

I love running. The past few years, I still run, just not on a tight schedule as I did when I was racing a lot...with a running coach. Sigh. I miss those days.

I try to explain to CJ, who I 'strongly encourage' (aka force) to do track in the Spring, that just because I love running doesn't mean I go out and _gleefully_ run. I love it but it's hard. It's hard to do and especially, to be motivated to get going. But once I do, I'm still not, like, WOO-HOOing, during the run. But the high at the end...and sometimes, during...yeah, that's a great feeling.

But there's something wonderful about running for me...during the run. I love the cadence. I love how my body feels, even if I'm complaining. I love the mental strength to keep myself going. I love that I _can_ keep going. I love the option to stop whenever I want but the bargaining I do with myself to get to a certain point. I love the focus. It's just a great thing.

I haven't written much about my running mainly because my running hasn't been regular, nor have I been training for anything. Well, technically, I have/should be training for races but I end up not showing up for them. Just money going straight to charity without me participating.

But I hope I don't make that another case with the Rock-n-Roll marathon coming to Raleigh in April. I'm doing the half marathon. I'm not ready to double the desired 13.1 miles. Not on my bucket list (a marathon) although I don't have it out of the question.

Fortunately, a few of my favorite people have signed up too, so I'm not at a loss for (good) peer pressure to get out there and run.

I started my exercise and runs last week. My last run was September 29, where I put in an awesome six mile run, in preparation for a five mile race just a couple weeks away. I didn't show up for the race. And I didn't run again after that.

Since my half is nearing and I've been procrastinating, I started running with my regular running buds, Audrey Podrey and Melisa. We got an easy two miles in one day, I did another two miles in two days later, then put my "long" run in that Sunday with three miles.

This week, I only got one run in during the week - a 'speedy-for-me' with another Melissa, Jenian, and Nancy. So, an unexpected tempo run. :) Melissa, who is also doing the half (as well as Jenian, Melisa, and Nancy), sent me (and others) her training plan and reminded us that we had a *five* mile run this weekend. Hmmm...five miles? I barely got three in last weekend...and while I got three in this past week, it was not easy trying to keep up with speedy Nancy and Melissa.

So I got up, did some stuff (like helping Tim lift a 600 lb. double-oven), then decided: OK. I'll see how far I can get. Looked at the temperature. 28 degrees. WTF?? I am not a fan.

By the time I got my shit on and together, the temperature got to 30 degrees. The run to the lake made me re-think if this was such a good idea. My nose was feeling the effect of the chill and the wind. I wondered if it would get frostbitten.

But I moved on and managed to get to the lake, where the miracle of apartment buildings and trees blocked most of the wind from freezing my nose off. I had the company of Marilyn Manson, Grouplove, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Alex & Sierra, plus my constant counting to 100, to keep my mind occupied as I looped the 2.20 mile lake twice, and then some, to get to five miles.

And that, my friends, made me very happy. I went non-stop and I thought: how the hell did I do that when I could barely get three miles in last week? I had a decent pace - I wasn't going at the speed of a fast walk. And with each mile, I was getting a few seconds faster, except the last one, even though I thought I was faster but it was faster than the average pace for the first three miles.

So, I may not be as fast as I had been during those years of racing, running regularly, with those amazing speed workouts, but the endurance is still there.

Now...if I can just keep up this regiment...and show up for the race.