Friday, October 13, 2017

It's The Return Of Scary Movie Month!

Marathon or no marathon, it's October and that means it's time for Scary Movie Month, where The Dude and I attempt to watch as many scary movies as we can possibly fit in.

This year I left the selection in The Dude's hands, I didn't much care what we watched - my mind was first taken up with the marathon and now with preparing for NaNoWriMo. Especially when we only ever see a fraction of what we want to anyway.

We always have some TV show as a fallback, for those nights when we sit down too late to watch a whole movie or one of us needs to go to bed early or when the movie up next isn't one we can reasonably split over two nights. This year that fallback is the third season of Buffy. I saw most of this season years ago by myself, up late with a colicky D, and once you get over the angst of the first few episodes it's one of my favorite seasons. So we've been working our way through that. Though I will say the older I get the less I enjoy it, I get too cranky about the immaturity on display.

Our first movie for the month was Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, we try to get one Hitchcock in every year. A classic, of course. I last saw this decades ago on a small black-and-white set in our kitchen - I hadn't even realized this movie was in color. Watching it now I was struck by just how creepy it is, there's behavior that is portrayed as matter-of-fact for that time period that would have red flags going up all over the place now. Brrr. But watching this made me want to visit San Francisco, for sure.

Then, spread out over three nights, David Fincher's Zodiac. There's a great article here with more about the film and why it might be considered his masterpiece.I'll just say that it was really hard to stop watching each night - it's put together so well and the performances are so compelling. I almost feel ready to start watching it again.

We gave ourselves a night off after the marathon to watch the Bears lose to the Vikings, and then watched Jordan Peele's Get Out. I'm trying to think how to respond to it without cursing in appreciation. It is so scary - in so many ways - and so well made - and so interesting, especially from a horror movie perspective - I just feel kind of dumbfounded. And I don't want to say anything that would give anything away or that would discourage anyone from seeing it. So, see it! And then we can talk.

I've been using this month to work through my to-be-read list for fantasy as well. So far I've finished the first book of Zoraida Córdova's The Vicious Deep trilogy (and just got the next two in the mail), and am almost done with Nnedi Okorafor's Akaba Witch. In theory I'm also working on the 2nd and 3rd volumes of Stephen King's Dark Tower series as well, but I have no expectation that I will finish those this month. I'm finding that series interesting but not as compelling as other books I'm reading or even other Stephen King I've read, so they're out and at hand if I've got some time to read and don't want to pick up a book that will be hard to put down, but not my first choice if I'm settling down for the evening. I'll be happy if I get through them by the end of the year.

Loving the cooler weather and dark evenings -
Annie

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Got A Marathon Thing Tomorrow

My iPod is loaded with podcasts, playlists, and albums.

My race vest is loaded with fuel.

My gear bag is loaded with clothes for after.

I've slept as much as I can this week, am as carbo-loaded as I can stand.

And I raised all the money I needed to.

Physically I'm probably in the worst shape I've ever been heading into this - mentally I'm probably in the best.

So wish me luck and we'll see what I can do!

Eagerly,
Annie

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Oops, I Did It Again (Back In)

Yeah, I'm back into marathon training. It seems I just can't stay away. I start getting excited... and then thinking about how I might do it... it's for an awesome cause... I've spent the money after all... I could just start that day and see how far I can go... I'll regret it if I don't...

Whatevs. After this I should stop saying I'm going to do a set thing when it comes to running 'cause I cannot tell you how many times I've set out with a plan only to watch it fall through. At least if I stop writing about it I don't have to admit to changing my plans. Again.

Anyway, I've been thinking about how I've gone about my training this year all wrong. Once I started back up again mid-summer I should have taken a much more conservative approach, and planned on a walk-run strategy from the start. (Also, I should have replaced my shoes sooner.)

From talking with other marathoners who have moved to a walk-run approach, I think it's not impossible to make a good attempt on Oct. 8 (three weeks away!) The Dude is worried that I'll push too much and injure myself seriously and that's not an unreasonable fear. So I'll have to have a mindset that day that allows me to stop if need be - and yet still provides motivation to continue even in tough spots. Not a tricky balancing act at all. In some ways it's lucky that I had that disastrous long run a couple of weeks ago - I could feel when I needed to stop. Mind you, I kept going and that was a mistake, but it was a good reminder that if I pay attention I do know the difference between when things are uncomfortable and I want to stop vs. when I'm about to hurt myself and need to.

And most important, I have to be okay with the possibility (likelihood) that I won't be able to go the whole distance. Like, really okay. I think I am now... I know I hadn't been before, and that's why I had thrown up my hands and quit. Twice. But now I'm thinking, what, give up this awesome opportunity just because I might not finish? Pshaw. It's not as if I ever look at my finisher medals anyway.

So I'm planning out my podcasts and playlists, I registered for the team pasta dinner the Friday before, I've started getting to bed a bit earlier...

I'm in it.
Annie




Wednesday, September 13, 2017

To New (Musical) Loves

I have fallen in love with Juan Gabriel.

I was listening to a podcast tribute to him, on NPR's Alt.Latino. I had read some articles about him shortly after his death, but this was my first time actually listening to his music.

And oh my, this one song just blew me away.

Do listen to the whole thing if you can. Oh, the build, the build!

In the podcast they only played a snippet, but the discussion of it got me intrigued (fun fact: I knew one of the commentators, Carolina Miranda, from college), and after I finished the podcast I went back to listen to the whole song.

And then again, and again. And then to other songs of his, and then to other versions of that song, and now I can say I am a full-on convert to the magic that is Juan Gabriel.

The whole podcast is worth listening to, but if you just want the discussion of that song, go to 13:20 on it.

And if you're now intrigued too, these articles are good places to start to understand the cultural phenomenon he was:


Now the only question is, for my Saturday morning cleaning, which CD do I subject the boys to?

Got my headphones on,
Annie



Friday, September 8, 2017

On Opinions vs. Reviews & Resigned to Not Being More Adept at the Latter

I've been filling in my Goodreads account, a few books at a time (I'm on there as Anne Crow). I'm only going as far back as last year, though I started my reading journal in 2007, back when I first read a collection of Nick Hornby's "Stuff I've Been Reading" columns from the Believer. I'm also not putting everything in - aside from the fact that I would be embarrassed to admit just how many romance novels I read in a month - I only include those books that I admired or thought about a great deal. No one-star reviews from me.

No reviews from me at all, as it turns out, just opinions. I've long admired people who can write reviews of books and movies: analyzing them in different ways and looking at them in larger contexts. And I love reading good reviews, I like having additional perspectives on what I'm taking in, whether from a broader or closer range. But I'm not naturally an analytical person myself and that's not how I write - about books or about movies (such as during my annual Scary Movie Month roundup), and even my Bible devotions for work are from a personal, contemplative stance, not historical or sociological or theological. And the few times I've tried to write differently (at least with my devotions) I've not been met with much enthusiasm and I haven't been very satisfied myself.

No, what I write are my opinions and personal reactions to the books. (I thank the women at Smart Bitches Trashy Books for helping me understand the difference.) Things I admired or that made me think or that I got stuck on. And just as I like to hear other people's opinions of what they've been reading/watching/hearing, especially if it's thoughtful and gives me a new way of thinking about things or new insight into that person, I have to hope that my perspective on things, narrow though it may be, is useful in some way to some people some of the time. And as I write this I realize I do - have hope, that is. Because I really do believe in the power of small things. Sometimes all on their own, and sometimes little by little until you have what seems like suddenly more. But the small things do matter.

Sometimes even if it's just an opinion.

Hopefully,
Annie

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Off the Road Again

I'm out of the marathon again. I hurt my foot on my last long run - too stubborn to stop when I should have and I didn't think it was that bad and when the hell would I have rescheduled for anyway? But it's been a week now and I still can't run and there just isn't any room between now and Oct. 8 for any setbacks. And who's to say I wouldn't injure myself the same, or worse, if I persisted?

(Not sure what the foot injury is. My ever-lurking plantar fasciitis flared up again but something more has happened on top - at first I thought it was a bad bruise but now I'm wondering if it's not a stress fracture. I'll have to go in and see.)

I should not have attempted marathon training again in the first place. I did not have the base I needed for my long runs, especially not for making the kind of mileage jumps I was attempting and needed to do with my late start and then missing three due to vacation and work commitments. I'd been able to do the first couple of jumps but it had been the equivalent of a new race-day effort each time - without the post-race recovery. And I'd known that, and still wasn't willing to make the changes I needed to make it all happen. Because that would have meant completely reorienting my life to be solely marathon-focused for these three months and I just haven't been willing to do so. Because, you know, I have a life. That I like.

So why didn't I stop before hurting myself? Stupid pride. I don't like to be seen as someone who doesn't follow through on commitments at work. (I'm actually quite happy to pull out of things - with the required amount of agonizing about it first - in nearly any other area of my life.) And while Chicago Lights is technically not the same organization as the church, and being part of the team is not part of my work responsibilities, I work closely enough to Chicago Lights and have enough colleagues on the team with me to feel uncomfortable about quitting. Again.

Of course the question is, why did I start again in the first place? Because I had quit once before, in the spring, before the real training and excitement got started, without any real bruise to my pride.

So here's the backstory. I quit in the spring because I was pregnant. And then miscarried. And that's a whole other story for another time. For now I'm just going to say that once my body recovered from all that - and once we decided we were done trying - once running began to feel natural to me again, the way it used to - and once my body felt like mine again, after more than two years of not quite feeling that way - then yes, it seemed like the most natural and wonderful thing in the world to take up the commitment I'd made last fall along with the hope and promise of what marathons can be.

Only, this time, it wasn't. I'd left it too late in the season, but also, time has moved on since my last marathon (which wasn't that pretty anyway). I'm older of course, but more to the point I have other commitments now, other challenges that move and excite me. I'm not going to say "never again" to the idea of a marathon, not like I did after my last one - but I think a lot would have to shift in my life to make that the main focus again. Which it would have to be (especially since I'm older).

I learned something from those first couple of weeks of training, though. I had forgotten how much running means to me. Not just how much joy it brings me, but how much I need it (or some other intense physical activity) to feel like my best self. I don't like to throw around phrases like "running is my anti-depressant" because I never want to disparage medication for those who need it. But for me, running really is an anti-depressant, and an anti-anxiety treatment as well. And so while I can function perfectly fine, mostly, without that kind of activity, when I am running hard on a regular basis (but not too hard, clearly), I am a much better person. Certainly a happier one.

With that in mind, along with the memory of the fierce satisfaction I had mid-summer and the sense of being right in my body and my head, I know I need to keep running and in particular, racing. I'm looking forward to going back to my favorite distances, 10-milers and 15Ks, where I can push myself hard on an early weekend morning and then go nicely long on a weekend - without wrecking myself in the process. But for now it's about resting and healing, the start of the school year and all the intense activity of fall and early winter that comes with having kids - sports! holidays! recitals! more sports! - and digging in to the other things that move me.

I wish I could say older and wiser but if I were wiser my foot wouldn't hurt,
Annie

Monday, August 21, 2017

Starting Over

Welp, I've realized I need to rewrite my novel. All of it. (I realized I needed to change the point of view.) Gah.

I knew I was going to have to do some massive reworking - and making this change will allow me to address some other issues I was having with it - I just didn't think it would involve rewriting the whole thing. Thankfully I have a sense of how to start. Because otherwise I really would feel thoroughly effed.

Right now I need to be focusing on the marathon anyway, what with less than two months to go... and I have a baby quilt overdue... and school is about to start which always takes more time and energy than it feels it should... all of which is to say I don't see myself plunging into this rewrite in the next two months. But that doesn't feel good either.

So, I've decided this year to tackle National Novel Writing Month again. Or NaNoWriMo, as they put it. November - 50,000 words, 30 days. And use that time to tackle my rewrite.

And in the meantime I will prepare - more research and writing exercises. I've got my list and have started to work through it and am getting excited.

I have no idea if I'll manage the word count. It's so out of my normal writing rhythm it seems impossible. But why the hell not try. It's not as if I have anything to lose, after all.

(And if you're doing NaNoWriMo too, you can find me on there as A Crow, Chicago. I'd love to have company.)

Yours in words,
Annie