Monday, January 30, 2012

This Is The Sound....!

I realize today isn't Tuesday, but you're going to get a tune anyways.  It's

The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel

Note the photo below.  This is not the sound of silence.  It's the sound (and site) of water damage.  Boo!  The blowing hum of these basement-savers produces enough white noise to silence the whole neighborhood  I cannot wait to turn them off!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Women's Olympic Trial Marathon

Holy smokes I'm busy!  Wow.  Like, I'm so busy that I think I'm busier than everyone else.  Like, I'm the only one with a job – which has a busy-pull-yer-hair-out season of RIGHT NOW, and kids, and a birthday party to plan – complete with eight-year-old religious rite, and an anniversary – twelve years young, and a Spouse who's been called to work – for an absurdly undeterminable amount of time – to repair some international espionage-esque hacking,  I AM THE BUSIEST PERSON ON THE PLANET.  I might even be busier than Martha Stewart.  Or at least busier that you.

Right here I'm totally making fun of how we women (yes, even me) have I'm-busier-than-anybody-else contests.  It's that one thing, where we list (and list and list), all of the worth while crap we gotta do.  Which, let's just face it, had we forgone the academy-award-wining display of said list, half of it would be complete. These contests aren't official, or even acknowledged verbally, but they're happening.  And for the record, "worth while crap" is a very relative term, in that what's worth while crap to you ain't worth while crap to me.  Mostly because what I consider worth while is crap, so there you go.

I am soooooo busy that it's a good thing I'm not training for the Olympics or something.  Few...  That was close!  But you know who is training for the Olympics?  Shalane Flanagan, and Desiree Davila, and Kara Goucher!  Care for a recap of how that came to be?  Sorry, not today for I'm just too busy.  Kidding!

Rabid and Yahoos at the finish line, the day before race.

On January 14, 2012, at exactly 8:15am, the Women's Olympic Trial Marathon was kicked into gear by  Frank Shorter.  I think.  Don't quote me on that.  Maybe it was Joan Benoit Samuelson. If you know who did shoot that gun, let me know.

This Olympic Trial Marathon for women is my second live viewing.  I saw the women's race in Boston's 2008 trials.  This was so much fun.  So fun was this race, that it was worth a repeat.  Hence the Houston Trip.

As stated earlier, we had just watched the first lap of the Men's Olympic Trial marathon and were patiently waiting for the women.  (We were strategically situation at miles 1.25ish, 9.25ish, 18.25ish, and 25.25ish.) When lo and 17 minutes and 45 seconds behold... the Women!  Running slower than normal.  We heard later that their first mile was in the 6:30 range.


Here's the lead pack.  Davila in front.  To me it looked like everyone in that pack had chosen Davila as the girl to beat, and therefore decided to stick behind her.  Davila, on the other hand, looked as if she was waiting for someone to pick up the pace and declare the game "on."


Then there's Goucher.  Sigh.  That girl is so hot.  She ran right by me.


More Goucher.  I refrained from posting all of my Goucher photos so that Spouse wouldn't get worried or jealous.


Then the masses passed.


Then we waited.  There's Spouse.  Sigh.  That boy is hot.  I didn't post all of my Spouse photos so that Goucher wouldn't get worried or jealous.


At lap two, the field had split considerably.  Up front were (left to right), Davila, Katie McGregor, Shalane, ???, Janet, Hastings, Deena, and Goucher.


Round three was exciting.  Amy Hastings was in the lead!  And looking awesome.


Followed by a Flanagan, Goucher, Davila scrambling.


Further back, Janet and Deena looked like they were sticking together.


The third to fourth lap was the most fun.  The field had spread and there was lots to watch.  Just when the last female ran by, Shalane Flanagan turned the corner and in the lead!  She was hauling ass.


Davila was close behind Flanagan.  But not close enough to catch, it seemed.  We were pretty sure that Shalane Flanagan had won the race at this time.


Just behind Desiree Davila, was that babe Goucher.


... then that other babe Amy Hastings.  She has my favorite running style of the bunch.  Very tight, efficient and strong looking.


Janet was fifth.  She finished the race with an eight-minute personal best.  Wow.


Deena came in sixth with a 2:30:40.  Deena had a baby ten months ago, by the way.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Men's Olympic Trial Marathon

On January 14, 2012, and for the first time ever, the Men's and Women's Olympic Trial Marathon was held on the same course, at the same time.  Houston, Texas was the place.  The men's race started at 8:00 and the ladies started at 8:15.  Today, I plan to give a brief recap of the men's race.

The marathon course was a 2-mile loop followed by three 8-mile loops.  Therefore, if one picked their spot right, one could see the runners zip by four times.  HOLY FREAK!  I WAS THAT ONE! I PICKED OUR SPOT JUST RIGHT. I SAW THEM ALL FOUR TIMES!

Here's the course map. We were stationed at the 15k mark, which was also 1.25ish, 9.25ish, 18/25 ish, and 25.25ish:

I suppose it all began when I picked the hotel.  I picked a hotel downtown because that was where the action is.  In my traveling days, I've learned that if you're going to travel thousands of miles, for cryin' out loud, stay in a strategic location; a location close to whatever action you plan to partake.

As luck would have it, I picked a hotel right along the marathon course.  It was a blind selection that turned into a total treat.  So here we are in our spot, bright 'n early.  Waiting...


... and eating...


...and reading...


At long last, we looked, and behold! The truck with the clock!

(Notice the time for 1.25ish miles.)

Then who should appear in the lead? Ryan Hall!


Then Abdi Abdirahman, Dathan Ritzenhein, Meb, and Mo Trafeh.


The masses followed.


We waited patiently for the women to come around.  After the women came by the first time (women's race will be documented at a later time, hopefully tomorrow), we waited in ernest for the men to make their second loop.  Finally (felt like forever, but not really) the boys made their way around to the 15k mark. The lonely lead was a pack of five.

(Ritz, Abdi, Meb, Hall, and Mo)

After the men made their second loop, I spotted Ryan Hall's little brother. I have no proof that this was Ryan Hall's little brother. However, the gent next to him was sporting an official Olympic Trial something-er-other, and the kid was dressed head-to-toe Asics.  Also, notice the smile.  It's totally his little brother.


With what seemed like a mere blink, round three at approximately 18.25ish miles, was before us.  With the lady race happening in between, there was plenty to watch.  Trafeh had fallen back, but the four up front were running strong.

(Meb, Hall, Ritz, Abdi)

Shortly thereafter, Utah's very own Paul Petersen made his way through the pack.  He looked great.  I hollered his name and he looked at me with a confused Who the...?  I'm Rabid, 'member me?


By the time the boys had made their fourth lap, approaching us at 25.25 miles, they had caught up to the girls.  MEB WAS IN THE LEAD!  Oh my stars!  Somehow, Meb had zipped past us without me seeing him (imagine that) and I couldn't get a photo of him before he passed.  Here's his backside.  Meb is sponsored by Sketchers now.  I tried on some of those Sketchers while in Houston.  Figured they'd help me run 5-minute miles for a couple of hours straight.


Hall was next. He was far enough back that we were sure that Meb would win.


Next was Abdi...


... then Ritz not too far behind. Ritz was working so hard! I hollered at Ritz to Go! Go! Go! so very loud, that I scratched my larynx. Or some other body part nestled in there.


Guess who fought his way into fifth place?  None other than Brett Gotcher! I wanted Gotcher on the team. Heck, I wanted them all on the team. Can't they all be on the team?  They are all so very awesome!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Houston Table of Contents

Today is Wednesday, the 18th of January, and our vacation is officially over.  Frownie face.  In an effort to solidify last week's events into a lasting impressions memory bank, I shall recount each and every last detail.

Not today though.  Today, I build the Table of Contents, which is totally backwards, but oh well.  And it won't be a true table, in that it will be in paragraph form instead of a list, but oh well again.  I need to take inventory of what happened real quick-like so that the memory bank has each and every last one of those lasting impressions.

On Thursday, January 12...
... at approximately 9:00am, we loaded ourselves onto an airplane.  I read some of Great Expectations, and the Top 100 Guitar-Gurus-Like-Evah issue of Rolling Stone.  I handed another issue of Rolling Stone to Yahoo #2.  (I received a subscription for Christmas and they sent me three at once to catch up or something.) Yahoo #2 subsequently opened the mag to a page housing a class-act photo of Courtney Love flashing her tatas.  That would be super-cynical-great-parenting-moment number one million.  The photo was blurred, but it did show skin.  And it did show Courtney Love.  And it did present some horror to the poor boy.  Which makes me super sad that his first non-related exposure to tatas were Courtney Love's.

Spouse read a four-hundred-eighty-seven-charactered Robert Jordan* book.  I think.  Yahoo #1 is into the Animorphs series lately.  He finishes one about every other day.

*I've since learned that it's a George R.R. Martin book, not Robert Jordan, but being incorrect about his book selection is part of history now and I must leave it as is.

The plane-ride was without incident, and the capturing of luggage, rental car, and directions went equally without incident.  We checked into a hotel downtown – The Hyatt on Louisiana between Polk and Clay, if you must know – and began the mad scramble for food.  Everyone had become hangry.  We had a chicken 'n basil 'n tomato 'n garlic 'n olive oil pizza – which Yahoo #2 hated and cried because of our blatant injustice (directly to him), then we fought a un-Texan-like head-wind on our way to the Houston Aquarium.  It was cold!  Later, we learned that the Aquarium had great food.  You could go around to the many tanks, pick your fish, and they'd stick it 'n fry it before your eyes.  Just kidding.  They don't do that, but we heard the food is great.

We walked back to the hotel through the theatre district and crashed while watching TV.

On Friday, January 13...
... Spouse and I refinanced the house in the lobby of the Hotel.  Weird.  It was truly paranormal.  Spouse had started the house-refi-ball rolling a while back ('cause like we wanted to cash in on the low-interest rate thing that's sweeping the nation.)  Due to that term "lock in," we had to sign the paperwork and whatnot before the end of the week.  They sent a Houston notary to watch us sign.  Still weird.

After the signing, we explored the Houston Tunnels without getting lost.  Kind of.  We definitely did some back-tracking.  Not all was lost over this back-tracking, however, because Yahoo #2 mastered escalator entry and exit (a true feat... Remember when the escalator was as scary as the high dive?)



We arrived at the convention center, coincidentally the start and finish of the Olympic Trials and Houston Marathon, picked up my bib – labeled "Rabidrunner," which I didn't remember signing up for – wandered the expo and took the tunnels back to our hotel.

We spent the afternoon with Spouse's brother and kids in a community called The Woodlands. We played a rousingly frustrating game of frisbee golf, then I ran six miles while Spouse's brother made us dinner.  The miles were heavenly and sea-level, and the food was spectacular.  Turns out that Spouse's brother loves to cook.  He also loves the Food Network.  So much did he love this Food Network, that his former TV had the Food Network logo burned into the bottom right.

On Saturday, January 14...
... I woke up early.  Really early.  I wanted to make sure we had a spot front and very center, so as to spectate and photograph the Olympic Trial marathon rightly.  I mean, that Olympic Trial marathon was 60% of the reason for scheduling this trip.  That 60% figure is exact, by the way.  Turns out, I didn't need to get up early, because on a course of roughly 8-10 miles (they did one two mile loop, then three 8ish mile loops,) there's plenty of spectator room.  This part of the trip will get two of its very own posts soon.  One for the women's race, another for the men.  Stayed tuned.

After the race, we went back to our room.  The course ran right past alternate sides of our hotel, so we didn't have far to go.  I napped for about an hour, 'cause, like, I had to run the next day.  Then we watched the Olympic Trial rebroadcast on the tube.  We are weird like that.  I'd watch it again if I had access.  There are definite differences between tube-watching a marathon, and actually seeing the competition unfold.  More to come on that.

That evening, we decided to drive by the LDS temple in Spring and have dinner there.  Because of construction, we were stuck in traffic for hours, arrived late, and, once again, were very hangry.  To avoid a possible "lack of food situation" for young children, and pre-marathoners, we just grabbed some Chinese.  It was spicy Chinese and prolly not a great choice.  But they had brown rice.  My body does well on brown rice.

On Sunday, January 15...
... I ran the Houston marathon in 3:17:09.  A serious accomplishment for the circumstances, AND, I had the time of my life.   The end left me extremely pleased and very sick to my stomach.  After pickles and juice – the recovery food of gut-sick-champions – we went to the Children's Museum of Houston.  We played there for about four hours, had some Tex-Mex, left my purse in the restaurant (duh!) went back for it in a panic, and it was still there.  Praise Karma.

We (really, I) have become hooked on Sprinkles cupcakes.  This is all thanks to Jessica, who brought us some from LA the last time she was in town. There is a Sprinkles in the greater Houston metropolis, and we spent an hour finding it.  Was it worth it?  Not sure, 'cause the Yahoos ate half of both my peanut butter cupcakes.  Of all the nerve.   I just ran 26.2 miles (26.5 according to my watch) I can have TWO cupcakes, all to myself.  Right?  Please show some support for me right now on this delicate issue.

On Monday, January 16...
... we visited the San Jacinto battleground – which was instrumental in liberating Texas from the tyranny of General Santa Anna of Mexico – and we played battleship for a couple hours on the U.S.S. Texas.  After we could no longer take the oil-fish smell on that boat, we asked the Yahoos, "Would you rather go to the Space Station or play with the cousins?"  They picked "Cousins."  Of course.  Cousins rule.  So we went back to The Woodlands to play in the park and chat and eat Pho and Sushi.  Spouse's brother and family were terrific hosts.

On Tuesday, January 17...
... it was our last day.  I wanted to photograph a fountain and take Spouse to this ritzy area of town that the marathon went through.  This area is called the Galleria, where the high-end housing and shopping resides.  We partook in a Kolache brunch, wandered through Neiman Marcus and others 'til we couldn't stand it any longer (seriously... who pays $500 for a dang blouse?  Who?  Think of the down coat you can buy for 500 bones.  Or skis?  Or bike parts?  Or... ?)  This mall-jaunt led us to believe that Houston is bringing in GOBS of cash.  Gobs.

After leaving the mall, Spouse drove by the Lululemon joint, we went in, and I bought nothing.  What the...? Am I okay?  I'm okay.  I'm more than okay.  I just had five blissful days of play with my family.  Nothing can top that.  Not even Lululemon.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Storage Olympic Hopefuls

I have lots to say about today's Olympic Trial Marathon, for it was the most fun I've had in years.   I don't have the time to tell ya'll about this race just now, for I'm resting and relaxing with the family.

Tomorrow, I run.  Meb says you should always have a strategy.  Ryan Hall said that his trials' strategy was to have no strategy.  Therefore, I'm going to have a strategy and no strategy – a runner's metaphorical cake 'n eat it too.  I will run 7:40s for three miles.  If I "feel it," then I shall "pump up the kicks" and let the Rabid roar.  If I don't feel it, I shall chill and meet some friends.

With that, I leave you with my favorite photos of the day (kind of... I got some great ones of the leaders – to show you later – oh, and Amy Hastings is my new favorite!)

The Storage Hopefuls: Either I'm way good at photoshop, or there's two.  Photos taken at mile 25ish.  They dress the same, they step the same, they swing the same.  Perhaps their mama made them wear different colored laces to tell them apart?  Perhaps.






Friday, January 13, 2012

Olympic Hopeful: Amy Hastings


This is Amy Hastings.  She's fast.  She landed a marathon debut of 2:27:03 at the Los Angeles marathon. She trains with Deena Kastor in Mammoth Lakes, California.  Amy is from Kansas and ran for ASU.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Olympic Hopeful: Brett Gotcher


There's this California punk* named Brett Gotcher.  He says his name like Go-tcher (not Gaw) because he Gos.  Not really.  I'll bet he pronounces his name Go-tcher because that's how his ancestry came upon the pronunciation.  But I didn't come here to talk about the vowel modulation of a California punk's last name, I came here to talk about a California punk and how he runs.

*Punk is an endearing term in my vocabulary, by the way.

Brett Gotcher, a graduate of Stanford University, is 27 and trains in the mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona.  While spending time with a few hip 'n edgy NAU graduates in Arizona last summer, we learned that locals do not call it Flagstaff.  They refer to it as just Flag.  As in We're going to Flag for the weekend, or, NAU is in Flag.

Flag is at 7000 feet, so I see why Brett would choose Flag as his high altitude training station.  He is part of Greg McMillan's elite post collegiate program, and holds the fourth fastest marathon qualifying time – a smoking 2:10:36.  This Brett Gotcher is most definitely a contender.

Incidentally, Greg McMillan holds a Spring and Fall running/training camp for old people (aka adults.)  I want to go.  Anyone wanna go to Flag and run with me?  I'm being serious. (For reals.  Now, had I said "seriously" instead of "I'm being serious," then you could rest assured that I'm not all that invested, as "seriously" has joined the ranks of "what's up with that?" and "it's all good" and other such euphemisms made popular in this, the 21st century, which, while they mean something, they've become diluted by illustrious use.)

This professional distance running thing is so much work.  Did you know that?  As I've read various bios, and what each has been up to, I've noticed that all of them fight the daily battle of health.  Brett Gotcher has had hip issues.  Dathan Ritzenhein, an achilles issue requiring multiple surgeries.  And Meb Keflezighi missed many weeks of training because of a foot infection.  Keeping each athlete's machine in top working order is no small feat.  And gearing them up for a specific day is a divine work of art.  To compete, their bodies must be spot on.  To do well, their willpower brain-stuff must be dialed in as well.

My hat is off to all of them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Olympic Hopeful: Dathan Ritzenhein


Today's Olympic Hopeful is 29-year-old, Michigan-born, University of Colorado-alum, Alberto Salazar-coached-in-Oregon, Dathan Ritzenhein.  Few.  I'll bet I couldn't load that sentence more if I tried.

Ritzenhein had some great competition in his years for he is the same age as super greats Alan Webb and Ryan Hall – I'd trade a load of cash to watch three race.  Ritzenhein was the Footlocker cross country champ in 1999 and 2000 (two years!) and is the current 5k American record holder of the 5k.  He married Kalin Toedebusch – also a University of Colorado distance runner – and have spawned two future runners of the girl and boy variety.

Dathan will be 2nd or 3rd.  I predict.  You can read his blog here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Olympic Hopeful: Shalane Flanagan (Tuesday Tune vol 105)


Today's Tuesday Tunes are Shalane Flanagan's.  Now get a load of how today's post unraveled: As is the case with all Tuesday Tunes, I let them just fly at me.  I don't ever sit down, with applied pressure and tension headache, to say, "It's Tuesday and I need some Tunes."  No siree, for Tuesday Tunes cannot be forced.  I just go about my day, and if a Tuesday Tune inspiration comes my way, then so be it.  If not, then so not be it.

Well, today, I was thinking about Shalane Flanagan.  Mostly about how fast she is and whatnot.  But also about how spectacularly adorable she is, and how she should be one of Rabidrunner's Olympic Hopefuls.  Then it hit me.  She prolly has some tunes on the internet somewhere!  After a quick google, my hunch proved true.  Runner's World published a Playlist of hers not too long ago.

The funny thing about this list, however, is that some ugly Joe in a basement somewhere left a comment and declared her playlist "crap." I was all sorts of disgusted with this Joe.  For one thing, any true music aficionado knows and testifies, that when it comes to music, there is one rule: to each their own.  There's no such thing as the end-all, be-all in music.  True music-lovers respect others' taste in music.  So while Joe is holed-down in a basement in his ugly unders, listening to Blink 182 and all the bands that sound like Blink 182 (or whatever), and wallowing in his musical superiority, others of us are looking at one another's lists and showing some respect.  'Cause we all know that we're about to discover something we like, right?

Truthfully, I've never met a playlist I didn't like.

So with that, here are some go-get-'em tunes a la Shalane Flanagan:

Saul Williams – List of Demands
Fergie – Glamorous
Mary J. Blige – Just Fine
Kevin Rudolf & Little Wayne – Let It Rock
Coldplay – Viva la Vida
Kid Cudi – Day 'n' Nite
Lady GaGa – Poker Face (Watch this one for the rad black 'n white Great Danes!)
Vampire Weekend – A-Punk
Maroon 5 – Harder to Breath
Metro Station – Shake It
Lupe Fiasco ft. Matthew Santos – Superstar
T.I. ft Rihanna – Live Your Life
Christina Aguilera – Fighter
Bruce Springsteen – Working On a Dream

Now that we've covered Flanagan's musical taste, let's move on to her Olympic Hopeful featurette. Massachusettes-raised Shalane Flanagan is 30 years of age, and the current American record holder for the 3k, 5k, and 10k.  She owns (and fondles daily, I'm sure) a Bronze from the Bejing Olympics in the 10k.  Running is in her genes, I suppose, as she was born to runners Cheryl Bridges (former world champion marathoner) and Steve Flanagan (a 2:18 marathoner.)  Shalane attended and ran for the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and is married to Steven Ashley Edwards.

Here are the Shalane Flanagan Personal Greats:

1500 m – 4:05.86 (Eugene, Oregon 10 June 2007)
3000 m – 8:33.25 (Boston, Massachusetts 27 January 2007)
5000 m – 14:44.80 (Walnut, California 13 April 2007)
10,000 m – 30:22.22 (NR Beijing, China 15 August 2008)
Half marathon – 1:08:36 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19 September 2010)
Marathon – 2:28:40 (New York City, New York 7 November 2010)

Right here and now, I predict that Shalane will be on the U.S. Olympic marathon team.  Let's see if I'm right!  Three days and counting...

Monday, January 09, 2012

Olympic Hopefuls: Adam and Kara Goucher


Today's Olympic Hopefuls are Adam and Kara Goucher.  They're married.  Isn't that sweet?  They're going to run the Olympic Trials together!  (Spouse?  Can we run an Olympic Trials Marathon together?  Pretty please?  As if a pretty please and an eyelash batting will get me to the Olympic Trials.  As! If!)

Kara was born in Queens, New York, but moved to Duluth, Minnesota at age four when her father was killed by a drunk driver.  Kara started running at age six.  She says, "I love to run. I truly believe I was born to do it. My quest for the perfect race is an adventure that never loses its excitement for me." She competed in high school, and later ran for the University of Colorado where she graduated in 2001.

Kara ran well at shorter distances (1500, 5000, 10000), but discovered in 2007 that maybe longer races were her forte.  In 2007, she ran a 1:06:57 half marathon, which made her the fastest American woman ever to run that distance.  In 2008, Kara competed in the Bejing Olympics – the 5000 and 10000 – and nailed some personal bests.  She didn't medal in Bejing, but was well on her way to greatness.

Kara's marathon debut was during the fall of 2008 with a dizzyingly fast New York in 2:25:53.  Kara took third and established herself as America's next great distance runner.  In 2009, she ran the Boston marathon in 2:32:25.  In 2010, she had a baby boy and named him Colt.  In 2011, she returned to the Boston to finish in 2:24:52 – her new personal marathon best.

Until recently, Kara has trained with distance running legend Alberto Salazar.  She and Adam live and run in Portland, Oregon.  You can follow Kara's blog here.

Adam Goucher was born and raised in Colorado Springs.  In 1993, Adam won the Footlocker National High School Cross Country Championship, which, seriously, is a big deal.  Big.  Like Adam was the fastest high school aged boy in the nation for 1993.  See?  Big deal.   Adam also ran for the University of Colorado.  I presume this is where the couple met, but have yet to discover the story.  So for now, I guess we get to "guess" the specifics of the Goucher romance.

In 2000, Adam qualified for the Olympic Team in the 5000 and competed in the Sydney Olympics.  He placed 13th.  From 2000 on, Adam has struggled with some significant injuries.  He didn't make the Olympic team in 2004 due to an achilles problem.   He has spent the last few years running with and supporting his lovely wife, Kara.

Adam qualified for the Olympic Trial marathon at the Philadelphia Rock 'n Roll half marathon with a time of 1:04:53.  Those Gouchers like their times in the 52 and 53 seconds, don't they?  Also, did you know you can qualify for the Olympic Trial marathon by running a half?  Or even a 10k?  It's true.  Check it out.

Adam wrote a book recently. It's called Running The Edge.  Kara also wrote a book.  It's called Kara Goucher's Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons.

I'm super excited to see what these Gouchers end up doing this weekend.  Aren't you?  Gads, this is exciting!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

One Hundred Years of Solitude

(One Hundred Pages) of One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez


I have two major rules.  They are:

1) The One-Mile Rule
2) The Hundred-Page Rule

The One-Mile Rule is my running rule.  The subset rules of this major rule involve running a mile.  The rule says I must run a mile.  And if I feel like crap after that one mile, then I can call it quits.  But no matter how crappy I feel, no matter how grumpy, or bloated, or bored, or no matter how bad the head hurts, just give it a mile.  If, after that one mile is over, I still feel the yuck, I can turn around and call it a day.

I have used the One-Mile Rule many times.  As of today, I've yet to call it quits after that first mile.  Usually a mile is all it takes for me to realize that "Hey!  This is fun.  I feel okay.  Let's keep going."

I also have a reading rule.  It's called the Hundred-Page rule.  The subset rules of this rule mandates that I must read a hundred pages.  If I've finished a hundred pages, and the book is either horribly dull or too much work to enjoy, then I can toss it aside and get a new one.  After all, reading is entertainment now, not work.

I read tax instructions for pay (meaning it's my job.)  Nothing is more work than reading tax instructions.  Therefore, if my entertainment selection is even the slightest amount of work, I say it's a no go.   Being an adult is great sometimes, isn't it?  Like, you totally get to choose what you want to read and when.

Incidentally, it's prolly not a good idea to tell your teenagers that one of the highlights of adulthood is choosing your own book.  Might give 'em a sense of impending doom.  I can hear it now.  Wait... What...?  Choosing your own book is one of the perks of being an adult...?   What the...?  That's it?  Not a million dollars or a mansion?  Or Disneyland every weekend?  

I gave One Hundred Years of Solitude a hundred pages.  Nothing happened, really.  Except for the father of the clan went nuts and they tied him to a tree.  That was exciting.  Also, there was a sister-chick fight over marrying some piano forte dealer who came to town, and one of the sister-chicks tried to poison the other sister-chick, but then the poison ended up killing their sweet, innocent, peace-making sister-in-law.

Other than the excitement listed above... oh and one of the brothers spent the night with a gypsy.  She ended up with child, then the brother bailed town, and the gypsy dumped the baby on the front porch for the family to raise.   So I guess there was some excitement.  But it just wasn't exciting.  Nothing really happened.  And when something did happen, like the traveling gypsy magician died, the author just said, "He died.  And they mourned for a year."  Or something like that.

One Hundred Years of Solitude is a family affair.  A tale that chronicles the entire this 'n thats of three generations.  All three generations, however, have the same dang name.  I guess that's a thing – this naming your offspray after yourself.  All three main characters had the same name and I could not keep track of who did what with whom and when.

Anyway, I gave One Hundred Years of Solitude its symbolic hundred pages, found it too much work, and took it back to the library.  I've since picked up Great Expectations.  I'm into that masterpiece sixteen blissful pages.  This one will pass the hundred page rule.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Drinking: A Love Story

I have five books to tell you all about (lucky for you, I won't tell you about them all now.)  Five books can be months and months of reading.  For many nights I have tucked myself into bed and read 'til the pages blur from tired eyes.  This can take anywhere from five to twelve minutes.

Having a good book at night is essential to my happiness for it helps end the day without worry.  I put my cares away and dive into the jaws of whatever I happen to fancy.  Basically, I shut the brain off and go into entertainment-land.

Traditionally, I have finished a book and typed up a real nice book report on this here blog.  I do this so that I'll remember what I've read.  I also do this because it's like my very own book club – only there's no time commitment and/or constraints, and I get to be the designated windbag.  You know what I mean by that, right?  Book clubs are scary (or so I've heard) because there's always that someone who participates just so they can go on-and-on (and on) about some inner (boring) deep meaning, deciphered by the hand of their quick wits and the lyrics of a Todd Rungren album.

Uh-oh.  I'm feeling some history here.  In high school, the weirdos I hung out with had somehow established that it was hip and edgy to be known as "deep" or "deep thinking."  We'd discuss important stuff like philosophy (for teens) and why Aldous Huxley should rule the (under) world.  We'd also talk some about preserving our mother nature, which usually involved climbing a tree, doing something illegal, then climbing back down.

We were so cool... but we were so dumb.  It's crystal clear now.  I mean philosophy for teens?  Is there a paradox more hysterical?  And that gaffer Huxley can't rule the world 'cause he's dead – was dead even way back then.  But dude... what about the doors of perception... man... you gotta open them... ... ... Now insert more trailing phrases that make no point and mean nothing and you'll get the idea.

Hehehehe.  That's my blog! The more things change, like, the more things, like change just a little bit, and then like, they come full circle and change in the other direction, and then, like, fall from the tree, and like the next thing you know, you're an apple all morphed up with the faces of both yer parents.

Anyway.  I have five books to report.  They are (in the order I read 'em):

The Life of Pie – Yann Martel
The Partly Cloudy Patriot – Sarah Vowell
A Romance on Three Legs – Katie Hafner
(A Hundred pages of) Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez
Drinking: A Love Story – Caroline Knapp

I read The Life of Pie somewhere around a while ago.  I figured that since I finished Drinking just yesterday, it's still all fresh 'n stuff, so I better do it first.  Then I figure I'll finish up the book reports in any order I choose.  You okay with that?  Good.  Here we go.

Drinking: A Love Story
by Caroline Knapp


Drinking is another dandy that Megan threw at me.  For reals.  She flew into town for Christmas and I picked her up at the airport.  She jumped in the car, threw this book at me and said, "Read it."  Or something like that.  For the record, Megan can throw any book at me, any time.  Just as long as it's not one of those heirloom hundred-pound Bibles.  That would hurt.

Drinking is Caroline Knapp's sobriety memoir.  In vivid technicolor detail, she describes how she went from a casual drinker to a full-fledged alcoholic who was drinking every day, and in secret – even had booze stashed behind the toilets and whatnot at the homes of family and friends.  She would obsess and live her day as if the whole point was to get drunk.

Ms. Knapp is what she calls a "high functioning alcoholic."  She was a writer for a magazine who made it to work every day, paid her bills, and managed to accomplish all of that other life stuff.  Even though she was "high functioning," every relationship in her life was a mess.  Mom, her two boyfriends (who didn't know about each other), dad, friends, drinking friends – you name it, there was friction because of her drinking.  The irony, however, is she couldn't handle being with any of them unless she was drinking.

After a bunch of years (I forget exactly how many), Caroline Knapp decides she's had enough and ends her love affair with The Drink. So she checks herself into rehab, makes the commitment to quit for good, and writes this book.  I believe she was sober three years when the book was written.

Here's what I found most interesting: Knapp discovers the difference between casual drinkers and alcoholics.  She discovers that alcoholics drink to avoid life, and specifically, to avoid any pain associated with life.  Alcoholics choose to drink in lieu of facing their many life choices, mistakes, sorrows, and moments of cozy good.  They are uncomfortable in their own skin and drink to avoid feeling themselves in that skin.

Ultimately, she realizes that while she's chasing three bottles of wine with a pint of cognac, she's robbing her life of progress.  Every time she sideswipes the looking of life right between the eyes by getting drunk, she's stunting her individual growth.

I had never seen or heard addiction explained this way.  I found it rather eye opening.  Parts of life include pain.  And pain usually makes one grow stronger.  I suppose it's best just to deal with the pain so as to recover and grow strong.  Kinda like when weight lifters bench press and stuff like that.

I'm not a drinker now. I'm a full-fledged abstainer.  However, I have this personality that does not stop.  Once I start something, be it study, or spending money, or (hullo!) running, I cannot stop.  Therefore it would be in my life-growth's best interest to remain an abstainer.

p.s. Megan said to "pass the book on."  Anyone care to read it next?