Friday, December 14, 2012

Stargazing and the Big Bang Theory



I love Big Bang Theory. I have a brother who is a computer engineer, another brother who is a design engineer, and a daughter who is currently knee deep in physics, organic chemistry and cell biology. I remember lunch with my brother and his wife one time when they were laughing about her dressing up as a “bucky ball” for Halloween (think Sheldon and the Doppler Effect). Between them all, I have a family full of Doctor Who loving, Battle Star Galactica watching, World of Warcraft playing, Magic card collecting, Dragon Con attending (in full costume) nerds. No one has a Star Trek uniform in their closet, but I think my sister-in-law would probably love to have one.

I have always been a bookworm, but I never considered myself a full blown nerd. I always thought I was on the fringes, watching my brothers nerd out from a close – but safe – distance. I like Star Trek and Star Wars. I love the Lord of the Rings movies and the Avengers. And I love video games. In fact I try to stay away from them because I get so addicted to them I can’t put them down. I’m pretty good with math and science. But my brain won’t wrap around physics. I don’t get it. I used to think you could sacrifice a chicken and draw some physics equations on the floor and you would be at risk of summoning demons. And I like shoes, purses and going to the beach.

Then along came Big Bang Theory. I watch reruns with my husband every night. It’s hilarious, and we both love it. I always think “they nailed it,” because my brothers are JUST LIKE THAT, especially my younger one. But what I didn’t realize was how many times I get the references. Like, every one that doesn’t have something to do with a convoluted physics principal. So when I saw there was going to be a meteor shower last night, it occurred to me that I might not be at the safe distance I thought I was. I love stargazing. I told my husband about it, and mentioned that I was a real nerd about things like that. His response was, “Baby, you shouldn’t limit yourself that way.” My husband is a real wit. It’s one of the things I love about him.

When I was finished laughing at him, I realized he’s right. My nerdiness isn’t limited at all. I guess it took someone who isn’t even close to being a nerd to see it. On the other hand, he indulges me. When I told him I wanted to get out of bed in the middle of the night and go lay out in the yard, in the cold, to watch the meteors, his response was, “Sure. I’ll get out the electric blanket.” So he dutifully got up at 1:30 this morning, put the blanket on the ground, and we watched shooting stars for an hour. The cat wondered what the heck we were doing, but once she realized the blanket was really warm, she curled up next to us and didn’t complain.  

It was wonderful. We saw dim meteors and bright ones, short tails and long ones, slow moving streaks and fast ones, all over the sky. And my husband enjoyed it, too. He said to let him know when the next meteor shower came through, and we would do it again.  As dates go, it rates as one of the most unique and memorable ones I’ve ever had.

Quiet time under a blanket with the husband watching the stars. Hmm. I’m good with that. Go nerds.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's Thanksgiving again. It seems like it has only been about two weeks since last Thanksgiving. The older I get, the more that seems to happen. So anyway, this is when we are supposed to take the time to stop and count our blessings. Here are mine (in no particular order):

1. I have the most fabulous husband in the world.  He treats me like a princess, is absolutely my soulmate, and I love him dearly.
2. I am blessed with a successful, smart, amazing daughter and two wonderful stepchildren that I enjoy tremendously.
3. My parents are both still alive and in good health. I have an 87-year-old grandmother who is in perfect health and still lives alone.
4. I have a job that I love and I can't imagine doing anything else.
5. I have a group of friends that are there for me when I need them, whether it is to laugh, cry or work.
6. I have been to some of the most amazing places in the world and have some incredible memories.
7. There are Big Bang Theory reruns on almost every night.
8. I am in the best shape of my life and just ran my fourth half marathon.
9. I live in a place where I can think what I want, vote for who I want, and the fact that others may not agree with me is okay.
10. I don't eat Twinkies anyway.

I hope you have things to be thankful for, too, great or small. Happy Thanksgiving all!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mickey Mouse Is My Favorite Cheerleader



I admit it. I never grew up. At 42, I sometimes think my obsession with the mouse is something I was supposed to have outgrown. On the other hand, one of my closest friends just turned 60 and she has a time share at Disney World. Aside from the fact that I’m terribly jealous of her (she knows this!), it does make me feel a little more normal.

The Wine and Dine half marathon is this weekend, and I can’t tell you how pumped I am. I normally get happy over my races, but the Run Disney events are just a bit different. There is an energy that is indescribable. They have this way of combining music, fireworks, speakers, and atmosphere in a way that can get thousands of people charged and ready to go. Even if it is pre-dawn and freezing cold. You don’t even care.

My first ever race was a Run Disney 5k. I went down to Orlando by myself, ran my 3.1 miles, and told myself when I was done that I would be back for more. When my daughter decided she was ready to run half marathons with me, I signed us up for the Disney marathon weekend. We ran the 5k one morning and the half the next (we actually felt guilty for not running the marathon the day after that—which is partially what inspired us to sign up for the marathon at the end of the year). We had a blast. Of course, we had a finish goal, so we didn’t take the time to stop  and enjoy the scenery, but we smiled, pointed and enjoyed ourselves tremendously as we ran past.

Wine and Dine takes it one step further. It’s at night! I’m a night owl by nature, so I can’t tell you how much that means to me.  I’ve never run a night race before, and I’m so excited. Of course, we’ve had a little bump in the road. My daughter has been having hip strain issues, so she slowed her training a bit to let it heal. She said the other day she should be fine to run/finish, but we won’t be setting any PR’s this time. This is my 4th half marathon, so I told her that was fine by me. We agreed that means we get to stop and take pictures this time around. I hope that means I’ll have some great Facebook photos when I get back.

So if you have plans to run the Wine and Dine this weekend, we'll see you there. We'll be the ones near the back with the camera. Wave at us as you run past!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Running Playlist



            My running playlist needs help! I’ve had the same running list, more or less, for a couple of years. I’m a classic rock kind of person, which means I’m not exposed to new material very often. Coming into the end of the year, I have two half marathons and a full, and I really want some new material to motivate me (my running support group will understand that!). I like stuff with a good, fairly fast beat, and some solid guitars don’t hurt, either. On the other hand, you'll see that I've got a little bit of everything--some hip hop, some country, some alternative--anything that makes good cadence music. If you have a minute and some good tunes to suggest, post your running list to the comment section. Or, if it’s easier, tweet me a song on two on twitter @linbrooks1. Your suggestions are MUCH appreciated! Here’s my current playlist:

Fat Bottomed Girls                            Queen 
Thunderstruck                                    AC/DC           
Girls, Girls, Girls                               Motley Crue                           
Viva Las Vegas                                  ZZ Top           
Thunder Kiss '65                               White Zombie
Even Flow                                         Pearl Jam        
Enter Sandman                                  Metallica        
Something In Your Mouth                Nickelback     
Fire Your Guns                                 AC/DC           
Click Click Boom                             Saliva 
Animals                                             Nickelback     
Bad Girlfriend                                   Theory of a Deadman
Burn It to the Ground                        Nickelback     
Sultans of Swing                               Dire Straits     
Shoot To Thrill                                  AC/DC                       
Because Of You                                 Nickelback     
Hey Ya!                                              OutKast         
Baby Likes to Rock It                        The Tractors   
Got Me Under Pressure                     ZZ Top                       
Back In Black                                    AC/DC           
Awake and Alive                               Skillet 
Superstition                                       Stevie Wonder           
Born to Run                                       Bruce Springsteen                  
Runnin' Down a Dream                     Tom Petty                              
Crazy Train                                        Ozzy Osbourne                      
Train                                                   3 Doors Down           
Bark At the Moon                              Ozzy Osbourne                      
T.N.T.                                                 AC/DC                                   
Hard To Handle                                 The Black Crowes
Gimme Three Steps                           Lynrd Skynrd
Sharp Dressed Man                           ZZ Top

Monday, October 8, 2012

Divorce Therapy

One of my favorite sayings goes something like this: "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment." Truer words were never spoken. I'm divorced, happily remarried to one of the sweetest men on the planet (my parents even love him, which is a first for me), but sorry to say that I didn't learn my lesson the first time. It took two bad marriages, and expensive, drama-filled divorces, to demonstrate to me that I was making some very bad decisions. I compounded the problem by refusing to admit that I had been wrong (I sort of have issues with that), which meant that I spent many miserable years living with my mistakes.

A bad relationship is like a disease. It creeps into your system and drains the life from you. Pretty soon, you don't even want to open your eyes in the morning. My divorces could easily have turned me into a bitter person. I was so angry for so many years that I could barely contain myself anymore. But my friends circled around me, we all compared notes (three of my closest friends are twice divorced, so they also had a catalog of material) and we were able to laugh about it. I quickly realized that I wasn't the only one to look back and wonder why I had spent so long allowing myself to be treated like a second class citizen. We started trying to one-up each other. And some of the stories we swapped...well, when you say them out loud, you start to realize how ridiculous you can let your life become. I shared many a side splitting laugh over iced tea, wine and margaritas. I felt so much better.

So I started writing about it. I told the stories we had all shared. I hinted at a pattern women can allow themselves to fall into if they aren't paying attention. I tried to use humor to show that women are better, stronger and tougher than we give ourselves credit for. We don't need a relationship to prove our self worth. In fact, a bad one can have the opposite effect. We are better standing on our own two feet than lashing ourselves to someone else who drags us down.

When I started telling women what I was writing, inevitably I would hear, "Oh, I've got one for you." I realized I had touched a nerve. In general, women tend to take the failure of a relationship as a personal failure--as in, "If I had just...I could have fixed it." Many men are the exact opposite ("If she had just...things would have been fine.") How fair is that? Both sides blame the woman. And by blaming her, he doesn't have to work on the relationship at all. He has no responsibility. No wonder we get so angry. 

Through the process, I saw I wasn't alone. And I am still seeing that. I pulled out the book and put the finishing touches on it recently at the request of one of my divorced friends--her ex of 15 years was giving her trouble and as she was telling me the story, she said this was one for that book I needed to finish (the task was much harder for me, by the way, as a happily remarried woman than it was as a recently divorced one that spent too much time battling over palimony payments). It will be released next month. I hope it provides as much therapy for others as it did for me. And if it gives you a laugh or two, so much the better. Especially if it's at the expense of a guy that richly deserves it.


PS My publisher is running a kickstarter campaign at http://kck.st/PxSu7T. Stop by and have a look. If nothing else, the video should give you a chuckle!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Marathon Training From the Not-So-Extreme Runner



My first marathon is looming. At least it feels like it is. It’s actually three months away, but I feel like this is getting ready to be the shortest three months of my life.

The longest distance I have ever run is 14 miles, which was in preparation for my last half marathon in March. I started my marathon training program in August…I think. I’m running a half in November, so when my daughter put the program together, she started it as a half training schedule and then swapped it over to a full training schedule at some point. I’m not sure when that point was. Anyway, I’ve been adding a mile a week for the last few weeks, and I just checked my schedule and noticed that I’m getting ready to start adding two. Within the next two weeks, I’ll beat my own distance record.

A friend of mine ran the Chicago marathon. He said if I can make 13 miles, I can “trudge through” the rest. I have another friend that regularly does the Iron Man competition, and he says if you can run 26 miles in a week, you can run it in a day.

Right now, I heartily disagree with them both.

Here’s the problem: when I hit 13 miles, I’m having problems thinking of myself as being half done. At this point in my training schedule, it feels like I’m ALL done. So maybe I can trudge through another 1 or 2 or even 3 miles. But 13?  I finished my long run today, and I later tweeted that I haven’t gotten to the point where I could finish 13 miles and be okay with the fact that I was only halfway there.

Am I supposed to be feeling like I’ve got more in me? Only twice have I finished a 13 and felt like I could keep on going. I start flagging, and when I get to the last two miles, I get this little lift because I figure I only have two miles left and I could do two miles in my sleep. I just don’t let myself think about the fact that it’s a little different when that two comes at the end of eleven others. By the time I get to the last half mile, I’m practically counting my steps. And don’t even get me started on the fact that my twenty year old daughter is telling me I need to speed it up some.  

So, at three months before my first marathon, I have to admit to being intimidated. I think I can finish 26.2 miles. I might be crawling, and will undoubtedly be slower than my daughter would like, but I think I can do this. On the other hand, that’s easy to say now that my joints have been iced and I’m showered and rested. Today, by the time I hit mile 12, I wasn’t so sure. One of my twitterers told me not to let the future mileage scare me and take it one week at a time. Good advice. So this week, I’m going for 14 miles. And when I’m done, I’m going to try really hard not to think about all of the miles I’m not running yet.