Birthday Eve

Technically it’s my birthday. But it’s almost 3 am, so my birthday hasn’t really started. It’s sort of like Christmas when you’re a kid. You may be awake most of the night on Christmas Eve out of excitement, and even though it’s technically Christmas after midnight, it doesn’t officially start until your parents wake up and you’re allowed to come out of your room to see the magic under the tree. Except this time, I’m not awake out of excitement, in fact, quite the opposite. I randomly woke up and just can’t go back to sleep. I’m pretty good at falling asleep when first going to bed, thank you pharmaceutical companies for that. I can usually tame my random thoughts long enough for the handful of prescription medications to kick in. That’s probably not going to work this time since it’s been about 4 or 5 hours since I took them. Which means a whole flood of randomness has invaded my brain. As a teacher on summer break, who also has a mid-summer birthday, this is the 2nd year that I have sworn off anything school related until after my birthday. Since technically it is my birthday, thoughts of school have come to this impromptu thought party. Though I’m pretty sure it’s not necessary now to think about how I’m going to prepare my presentation at the professional development day in September. Also not necessary to wonder what it will be like having a new principal when my current one retires in a couple of years. Funnily enough, pushing those thoughts out of my head and focusing on what I want to do today while my husband is at work also did not help me go back to sleep. I planned out a crafty day for myself, starting with a trip to Joann’s Craft Store to use my birthday discount coupon. I even came up with a little shopping list. That only made me a bit too excited about what I am planning on making today. The store is not open this early, so that’s a moot thought process too.

I wonder if this is what insomniacs experience every night. It kind of sucks. But thankfully, this doesn’t happen often for me. So on this birthday eve, I think I’m going to find one of my cats to bring back to bed with me and be very grateful that there’s only a few hours left before the sun comes up and I won’t have to feel weird about being awake when I’m usually asleep.

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Sharp Objects on HBO

I had seen previews of this show and read online that there would be triggers in it so caution should be taken when watching it. That got me curious, but I ultimately ended up watching it last night because I saw that Chris Messina is in it, along with Amy Adams, who I love. I am a fan of the two of them as husband and wife in the movie Julie & Julia, so naturally I had to watch this.

The show is very dark, and initially I thought the triggers would be brought on by the fact that the main character is an alcoholic. It doesn’t just show her drunk, but shows the act of drinking–rearranging bottles, buying liquor, pouring alcohol into a water bottle so she can drink while driving, etc. I don’t have a history of alcohol abuse, so this part of the show didn’t affect me. It wasn’t until the last scene that I realized that there was another aspect of the main character that was troubling. She is a cutter. With closeups of her bare skin while taking a bath, you see the pink scar lines on her shoulders and arms. It’s obvious that these are self-inflicted because the word ‘vanish’ is cut into her arm. The show ends after this is revealed.

Seeing this is not a trigger for me like it may have been at one time, and for that, I’m very thankful. If anything, it brought back memories. Throughout the episode, it is clear that it’s the summer in the south, as most of the characters are in shorts and short-sleeved shirts. There is even a large circle of sweat on the back of the lead detective’s shirt. And yet, Amy Adams’ character is always in long-sleeves and pants. I did that. When I was a cutter, I wore long-sleeved shirts out in public during the sweltering summer months. I had to hide the cuts somehow. But oddly, I never cringed when I looked at my cut-up arms. Even now, remembering the blood-red lines running parallel up and down my forearms, it doesn’t make me upset. Those cuts were a big relief to me then, and even beautiful in my mind.

The other thing that I got from the show is a reminder of why I will never again live in the town I grew up in. The main character on the show had a very disturbing childhood and is now having flashbacks of those times, now that she is an adult having to revisit the town to cover a story as a reporter. So many terrible things happened to me in the town I lived in from the age of 12. I can’t stand going back there. I really never have a reason to. In fact, they recently built a by-pass around the town so that when I have to travel north, I don’t even have to drive through the middle. The one time I had to actually go to a place in the town, I was quick to get out. I dropped off something that I had made for a friend and could not wait until my husband and I had driven out of the city limits. I am Facebook friends with a few people who still live there, and I just don’t get how they can stay. But then again, I didn’t live there my whole life. Maybe if I had, things would have been different.

In any case, the show only just premiered last night. I’m pretty sure I’ll watch the whole series. Like I said, the triggers that viewers were cautioned against don’t affect me. They are not making me want to cut myself again. Nothing will ever make me do that again. But I know that I will have to mentally prepare myself to watch each week. The show is seriously dark, definitely worth watching though.

Big City Living

The Devil Wears Prada, Julie & Julia, You’ve Got Mail, Coyote Ugly, Music & Lyrics, Will & Grace, Friends

These are all of my absolute, hands down, favorite movies and t.v. shows. I could watch them over and over and never get tired of watching, in fact, that’s pretty much what I do. Given the choice of new things to discover on t.v. or Netflix, I turn to these old favorites (granted I’m watching Friends for the first time on Netflix). Besides the chic-flick kind of story line these movies have that appeal to me, a chic, I think I love them the most because they’re all set in New York City.

New York is my ultimate bucket list trip. I would like to leave this country at some point and visit an overseas country, but NYC is the first place I want to go before anywhere else. My husband and I passed the exit for the city on our trip to upstate New York one summer. My heart practically leaped out of the car when I saw the exit sign. But more so than just a touristy kind of visit, where I’m sure I would be annoying to the locals because I would want to take a picture of everything, I think I want to live there. My husband’s niece just recently moved there and I am SO jealous! What I have heard about her experiences there reaffirm for me the reasons that I think I absolutely need to live there.

I’m certain that my desire is fueled by what I see in all these movies and shows, but they can’t be too far off from reality. In particular, I’m fascinated by the idea of my morning and afternoon commute being centered on the subway and walking to and from subway stations. Certainly I would miss the convenience of my car, but still… I’m also in love with the idea of corner markets and little hole in the wall dive restaurants that are just a walk around the corner from our apartment. Let’s not forget apartments that are up above a pizza parlor or a drug store or some other business.

Knowing me, I would probably get pretty tired of all the people and commotion after a while. Tourists would aggravate me and all the landmarks that I would so desperately want to be around, would become no big deal. I’d get used to seeing the Statue of Liberty off in the distance, or the Empire State building. I’d be frustrated by large crowds on the subway when I’m trying to carry home groceries. The romance of it all might wear off sooner than I’d like. Or maybe it wouldn’t.

I’m reminded of this now because my parents are currently on their way to New York City for several weeks to drive the bus for different groups of people touring the city. And while I’d love to trade places with them, I have to remember that my home is down here in the south. Though I’ll keep my camera charged and ready for the time that my husband and I take his niece up on her offer to come visit. Until then…it’s a You’ve Got Mail kind of movie afternoon.

I ran the race.

And it was tough. The first mile consisted of a really steep hill that I walked up, as did many other people who were in the rear of the pack. Once the route descended the hill, I was able to run. Not for the whole 4 miles, but as much as I could possibly run in intervals of varying lengths.

I had done a great job of getting out of bed every other morning at 6:30–of course it helps that 6:30 is when my husband leaves for work. I would get into my running gear and tackle the couch to 5k app, slowly building myself up to run in longer intervals. I was ecstatic when I got to week 5 day 3, which is running for 20 minutes straight. I had told myself that once I got to that point, I would stop using the app and just focus on distance. Time had run out by then and I was only able to do one run without the app before the race. For that run, I was able to go for about 2 miles without stopping to walk. Granted, my pace is that of a turtle, but my shuffle run is still faster than my walking pace. And really, just the fact that I was getting out there in the morning, like I had said I was going to, was enough for me. The temperature every morning was in the high 70s with pretty high humidity. But it never bothered me. I expected to come home sweaty each time, that’s what happens when you run during the summer months. Even on days when we were under a heat advisory, I still ran, because in the morning before the sun gets high, the temperature isn’t in heat advisory territory. So when several people talked of braving the heat and the humidity being the worst part on race day, I just kind of laughed because it really didn’t affect me. I had long since gotten used to it.

There were 1,016 people registered for the Firecracker 4 Miler this 4th of July, and according to the results website, there were 860 or so actual runners. I placed somewhere in the 740 range. I had no aspirations of doing anything spectacular for pace, I just didn’t want to come in last. I was very close to the bottom of my age group, but I wasn’t last and that’s o.k. with me.

What was spectacular about the race was the people. The event was hosted by the local running club that I’m a member of. I don’t go to their meetups out of self-consciousness, but I’m a paid member. It was many of the members that served as volunteers for the race. There were people at every turn in the route clapping and cheering for every person that rounded the corners. They didn’t know my name, but they could see my number and having someone call out “Come on 64, you’re doing great!” when I was huffing along was amazing. The people handing out water at every mile with big smiles as I approached were encouraging. Seeing my husband randomly on the side of the route taking pictures when I didn’t expect to see him and hearing him cheer me on, was a great motivation. Even the ladies running behind me commented on how sweet it was for him to do that.

But the moment I will carry with me came as I rounded the last turn that would lead me to the finish line. There was a lady waiting for me. Judy is the wife of the man I teach with. I teach English and he teaches math. He doesn’t have a Facebook page, but she does, and we have been friends on there for several months. She’s of retirement age, but is in great shape and running races like this are the norm for her. She had called out to me earlier in the race. She was about a mile ahead going in the opposite direction I was. We quickly passed by each other and I didn’t think much of it until I saw her on the corner of that last turn. Obviously she had already finished the race and gotten her medal, in fact, she placed 2nd in her age group. But there she was, back on the course, waiting for me. She hopped off the curb and started jogging beside me. Words of encouragement poured out and though I was very much out of breath, I thanked her as best as I could. She kept pace with me for that last quarter of a mile, continuously assuring me that I was very close to the finish line. When we reached the very last few feet, she stepped off the course and across I went. From extended arms I took hold of my finisher’s medal (which is all I really wanted), a banana, and a bottle of water. People were clapping and cheering and my name was being called over the loud speaker as I crossed, as though I was the first. It felt great. I didn’t see Judy after that, I had wanted to thank her again after regaining my ability to speak without my breathing getting in the way. I did get to thank her on Facebook later. It is very true what they say about runners being the best people.

the last leg
My fantastic hubby captured the moment. I’m the one in bright pink on the right, and Judy is on the left in the tank top and white hat.

This race was Judy’s last for a while. She told me this when we bumped into each other the day before at the packet pick-up location. Her knees have really been hurting her lately. I told her, this is just the beginning for me. And I meant it. I’m determined now to lose weight. My diet prior to the race wasn’t the best. But now I’d like to get rid of the weight so that I can be a better runner. So that in a future race, I can be an early finisher so that I can step in and jog with someone who needs an extra boost to the finish. It may take me a while to get to that point, but I’ll get there. I’m not going to give up, this truly is just the beginning.