Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Couldn't resist the little teaser title, those old spaghetti-westerns that my dad used to watch on
Great Movies on City TV on Saturday afternoons.
It's the yearly round up, everyone's doing it, why can't I?

It's past noon here on this last day of 2013, and I'm still in pajamas. My boss gave me the half-day off, I cancelled on the client I was supposed to meet, and I'm drinking coffee and Mike is here, puttering about in the background. Pink Floyd is playing in the background.
List format is all I can manage today. As I said, Mike is here and we've had a couple of later nights.

The Good
Well, we know what number one is here.
1.  Work. The departure of not one, but two key people at my office. How did I feel that April day?
Well, it was like my birthday, Christmas, and wedding day all tied into one with a beautiful bow.
After the Ugly portion of work (November, 2012 to the day before this day in April), the Good part was even sweeter.
2.  Vacations. Namely Key West, where I want my ashes sprinkled when I die. Yes, it was that good. Weather perfection in the middle of dreary January, Mike, the long drive to get there, Florida in general, the birds, the foliage, the water, the colours, the 4am closing time. I can't wait to get back.
3.  Summer vacation in Maine is pretty damn good too, and when I think about the years and years of no-vacation-taking I look back and want to cry for my poor, strapped, twenty-something-self, and early-thirty-something-self. Vacations, like sport, are the toy department of life (I read that on twitter, that's another Good thing--great quotes, more about that in a minute).  Weather in Maine in August was a big improvement over the July, which was rainy and grey. August meant vacation with my sister and her kids, my husband working away, and our friend L. joining us from New York City.  A full house, lots of laughs, wine, nail-painting and the grand finale; watching Miley Cyrus remind us how damn old we really are at the VMA's.  Oh, and I turned forty. And I love it.
4.  Forty. A new decade, a new viewpoint, the previous thirty-nine years research for this one (another great quote).  I feel stronger, I feel older (in a good way).  And I feel grateful.
5.  Running. Mastering it once again. Having it re-master me. Falling back in love with it, slowly, one (sometimes painful) step at a time.  It's been a rainy year and it was an early winter so that's been great for this cold-weather runner. Cross-training of roller-blading in the summer was great, as was spinning in the winter.
6.  Reading. Ebooks. Wow. Just burning through books faster than I thought I could. I read way more this year than I have in the previous three or four years, the only downside being that once I return the ebook to the library it's easy to forget how many titles I've read. I vow to start tracking that this year. I really want to count how many I read in a year. But read some great books this year.
7.  Mike. Of course. He's really the top of the list, but I'm just randomly writing, so forgive me.
After the holiday rush is all over I still get one nice last little day--our anniversary, this year, our second, and it's a nice thing to look forward first thing in the new year.

I could go on and on about my family and friends (my niece and her progress at art lessons, my nephews wonderful prayers before meals, first communions), but I'll just say this, I'm not going to make any Bad or Ugly listings.
Were there tough times this year? Yes, like every year. Mike not being here all fall has been very hard. The back-and-forth short visits to Maine are fun, but also very hard. One day I'm in rural New England happily watching football then the next I'm back in the cold hard reality of my city life and my long-distance marriage.
And work, while good, has been almost all-consuming.
This blog has been sorely neglected, and I've very much missed writing. But after long weeks of work I'm simply too tired.
The weekends go by with frightening speed, running, the market, church, and spending time with family takes up most of the two little days.

So Happy New Year, 2014 is hurtling toward us, this revolving door planet somehow keeps on spinning, and we right along with it.

Enjoy the ride.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Book List

It's harder to do the book list this year as I've been e-reading library books and they leave in a puff of smoke once I'm done reading them.
Meaning...I do a good job of falling headfirst into them while I have them, but they leave behind no physical trace. They are vapour.

I'm trying to remember some of my most memorable this year, and some of them have been mentioned in this blog, but here goes.... (random order).

PS: I've been working on this post for two weeks. It's hard on the iPad. Also, I keep thinking of more books...

1.  "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?"  Maria Semple.  Easily one of my favourites this year. Done in email/letter format, a format I normally don't care for (it has to be masterful--this one is). I can't tell you too much without giving it away, but it started as a New Yorker piece and wove on from there.

2.  "Rules of Civility" Amor Towles. Just read this. It's unforgettable. New York in the thirties. The female protagonist is brilliant.  One thing from the book has stayed with me since I read it. She quotes her father on his theory of life. "When you get up in the morning, do you want that cup of coffee?" That's it.  I find, pretty much every morning, I want that coffee. I think it's an amazing way to look at life.

3.  "Gone, Girl" Gillian Flynn. A tale. Woven. Threaded. Webbed.

4.  "Horns" Joe Hill.  Stephen King's son. Need I say more?

5.  "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" by Ayana Mathis (one of New York Times Notable book of the year).  Oprah's bookclub. Intriguing.

6.  "The Dinner" Herman Koch (also a NY Times notable). Didn't live up to the hype for me, but I got through it.

7.  "We Need to Talk About Kevin" Lionel Shriver. Closely related in topic to The Dinner but a superior book in my opinion.

8.  "Tiny Beautiful Things" Cheryl Strayed.  The collected advice columns of the Rumpus' "Dear Sugar"

9.  "I Love You But I'm Leaving You Anyway" Tracy McMillan. Could not put this one down. Part memoir the one line that stayed with me as she described herself as a child "I was Pippi Longstocking without the monkey."

10..  "A House in the Sky" Amanda Lindhout. Memoir of captivity at the hands of Somali terrorists. Tough to read.

11.  "Save Yourself" Kelly Braffet. Stephen King's daughter-in-law. A serious talent.

12.  "The White Album" Joan Didion.  Collected essays. Cultural review. Sparsely styled, one of the hallmarks of Didion. Loved it.

13. "Seven American Deaths and Disasters" Kenneth Goldsmith. Amazing read, especially the chapter on the shooting of John Lennon.

14. "The Long Good-bye" Meghan O'Rourke.  Memoir. A parent's death from cancer. Tough for me to read, but very memorable writing.

15.  "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" Allan Stillitoe.  Working class England, spare style here, too, and incredible dialogue.

16.  "Born to Run" Christopher McDougall.  About ultra-running. Amazing.

 I'll stop here and I will create a follow-up soon--just thinking of more titles.
Enjoy! Every book on this list is eminently read-able and will stay with you.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Ok I love this. 
A new list, sent to me by my friend and fellow runner, H. 

The list, the 'JFR' favours the mantra approach (that's what I do when I do hills. A mantra.
"With intention" is my favourite, with a bit of "You got this" thrown in there.) 

I haven't had my December running be this committed and this good in years,
and I know that part of it is because Mike is not here this winter (family illness in Maine) and  I've been running as  therapy as I am prone to do, to beat down the loneliness and keep that hermit in me at bay. 

Also, where would I be without the Fitness Challenge, posed to me by my friend G. all the way from NC?  Getting up on those freezing weekend mornings (because, let's face it, this has been a hellishly cold end of the autumn) I feel like I don't want to let anyone down so I really do talk myself out of bed early, and get on out there, freezing cold or not.  

So don't wait til the new year. Do it now. 

And don't forget: