Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Running Journal 1: Don't Call It a Comeback

A couple of weeks ago, my husband came barrelling through the kitchen with his planner in hand with a look of purpose on his face. When I asked what he was up to, he said, "I'm going to run the Fox Fest 5K in May."


So back up to the end of August 2016. The ridiculously hot weather completely zapped my energy and will to run, and I started to fade in my regular running practice. We had planned to do a 5K in September or October, but my son's Cub Scout camping trip changed those plans.

Alas, since then, my running has fallen off. I've made a few unsuccessful attempts to re-start to no avail.

Until hubs declared his 5K participation. Now it looks like I'll be running my first race in two months, whether I'm ready or not!

I'd rather be ready, so I'm back to work. The first time around, when I blogged about Couch to 5K last year, I said I wish'd I'd kept a running journal, so here we are. I rewound my C25K plan to Week 3 in order to get level with my current fitness and get ready for the race in time. I've been at it a week or so.

The first run was great. Never felt better. I even did a few extra intervals because I had some gas left in the tank. On the second day, I was a little slower and felt heavier. I had some mild knee pain and just felt slow. Today, run three, was a beast. Mild knee pain, foot pain that faded, and a bitchin' heel blister that came up halfway through. But it's done, and overall, my pace is markedly improved from last year when I started this journey.

The truth of the matter is that running will never be as hard as it was the first time. The days when I would run 15 seconds and wish for death. Ha! I've never felt as healthy, strong, and badass as I did when I was running regularly, and I desperately need those positive feelings these days when my creativity has largely been sapped and overwhelmed.

Wish me luck friends. I'll need your good thoughts.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Playing with Paper

I'm still on a planners-more-than-books kick, so here's my latest "Plan with Me" video! Because why the hell not?

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Books in My Ears: Shadowshaper

I've been reading with my ears lately, and that's not usually my chosen method. I'm finding that, right now, audiobooks are rewarding and engrossing in a way that print is not. I can't depend on my tired, rebellious brain to bring books to life for me, so I need a kickass reader to do it. I also do some pretty serious commuting, and rather than finding my drive a chore, it's become a moment of solace in my day. 

I just finished Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older. I've heard nothing but good things about Older from the likes of Amanda and Jenn on the Get Booked podcast. When I was browsing my library's audiobook holdings, it popped out at me, and the rest is magic.

Read by Anika Noni Rose, this book was magical and mystical and sensual and fast-paced. In short, it was just the kind of novel that pulls me in from the start.

Sierra is a teen growing up in Brookyn, and she's a talented artist. As the summer begins, she's looking forward to a carefree time, but then a zombie something-or-other shows up at a party and changes everything. Along with her friends and a mysterious cutie and fellow artist, Robbie, Sierra begins to uncover the Shadowshapers, an order originally comprised of her ancestors. They can channel spirits into art--paintings, music--and those spirits will work with them, protect them. It's great until a twisted anthropologist comes into the mix and screws everything up, perverting and twisting the Shadowshapers' abilities to fulfill his own selfish wishes.

This was a perfect pairing of novel and reader. Anika Noni Rose is seriously amazing. Her voice is buttery and enthralling, filling Sierra and her quirkiest friends with life. Older's writing is quirky in itself, cheesy in spots, but so much fun. I appreciated the atmosphere of New York, the distinct voices of Sierra's friends, and the inclusiveness in this YA urban fantasy. Sierra's Caribbean heritage and the web of culture, magic, and family in this story was lovely and refreshing.

As usual, I'm not doing this one any justice, but if you need something fun to sweep you away, this is probably it.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Lincoln In the Bardo

If Hieronymous Bosch's painting, "Garden of Earthly Delights," cross-mojonated with Dante's Inferno and Team of Rivals, it would amount to Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. I had my moment reading old white guys who play with literary form in graduate school, but I left that reading behind some time ago. Even though I was afraid that's what I was going to get with this novel, it was much better than some intellectual circle jerk. It was playful in its form, and it was quietly ambitious, and it did make me roll my eyes a time or two, but it was good. It was five-start, all-time fave good. I think I probably have the audio performance to thank for that.

Backing up just a bit, the novel takes place over one night after the interment of Abraham Lincoln's 11-year-old son, Willie, who died of typhoid. Willie is stuck in the transition from life to afterlife, and that's not a place most children end up. As our narrators make clear, "These young ones are not meant to tarry." Willie is surrounded by a cast of characters--and I do mean CHARACTERS--like Mr. Bevins (David Sedaris), a young suicide, and Mr. Vollman (Nick Offerman), a printer who was killed in a freak accident before consummating his marriage. All of the lingering spirits are perpetually focused on the things they were perpetually focused on in life. Whether they were victimized, obsessed, brutal, tortured, or aloof, they are much the same in death. But...worse. For the most part, they don't know they're dead...serious denial...but they do know that at some point, some of them go on. Somewhere.

There are a grand total of 166 readers in the audiobook production, and I was almost certain it would make my head spin, but that's where Saunders' attentions to form comes in. The narrative is fragmented in such a way that really worked for me. Some chapters unfold in a very traditional narrative and are told almost exclusively by Vollman, Bevins, the Reverend Thomas (George Saunders) Willie, President Lincoln, and others of the spirits. Other chapters are historical (actual historical and completely invented) snippets that tell of the night Willie died, what life was like in the White House, how the Lincolns reacted to their son's death, how the funeral unfolded, how Lincoln was perceived as a president, and lots more.

It was easy to sink into the rhythm of the book, and it was actually enjoyable to experience all the voices. It gave the story an expansive, blooming effect as each chapter added a bit more to the overall picture, and it felt weighty with history and emotion.  And that ending. But I'm not telling you WHAT about that ending.

If you're on the fence, take the plunge. If you hadn't been interested until now, snap it up!

Images by Freepik