Help! My Grandmother Just Joined Facebook

24 Mar

When I signed into Facebook this morning,* I checked my news feed to see what my friends had been up to over the previous eight or so hours while I was sleeping, wished happy birthday to a few people I hadn’t seen in years and whose birthdays I would never remember if it weren’t for the all-knowing Facebook, updated my status, untagged a couple of unflattering photos, and then checked my news feed again to catch up on everything I had missed while I was Facebooking. You know, the usual routine.

And then the unthinkable happened.

I had a new friend request … FROM MY GRANDMOTHER! How is this possible? My grandmother? On Facebook? Really? Yes. Really.

Remember when Facebook (or thefacebook.com) was a place just for your college friends?  I still do … faintly. “I don’t even know what a quail looks like.”

*I wrote this post a while back and just now came across it unpublished in my drafts. It made me laugh, so I hit publish.

I Am a Runner (But I Sometimes Take Walk Breaks)

8 Mar

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been training for the Country Music 1/2 Marathon with a group of about 500 runners and walkers since early January. On the first day of training, we all met up at Fleet Feet Sports in Brentwood at 7:00 on a Saturday morning – nearly 500 of us crammed into that small space in our running tights and pullovers, still groggy from the adjustment to our new pre-dawn wake-up time.

Our designated pace leaders held up neon poster-board signs with training pace times scrawled across them in black Sharpie marker, making it easier for us to spot and join a group that ran at our pace. The groups ranged from 7-minute mile runners, to various run-walk-run interval groups, to race-walkers.

Naturally, I scanned the room to find the slowest pace group for runners. I had been running consistently for a few months building up to a 5k, but I was not (and probably never will be) a thin-limbed gazelle.

So on that first day, anxious and excited about this new challenge, I bounded off for our first 4-mile run in below-freezing temperatures with a group of about 20 others who were running at a 11-minute, 30-second/mile pace. It went well. I was feeling great. I couldn’t believe that in just a few months I’d be running 13.1 miles.

But after only a couple of weeks, once we started adding more mileage, I realized there was no way I would be able to keep up with my 11:30 pace group – the slowest runner pace group in the program – for more than a few miles. The longer we ran, the farther I was being left behind. I was discouraged. I felt like a failure. I wanted to quit.

I had a decision to make. I could keep trudging along slowly and singularly and hope I didn’t get lost once my pace group was no longer in my sight. Or I could drop back to a run-walk-run interval group, alternating periods of running with shorter periods of recovery walks.

Neither of these options appealed to me. I didn’t want to run alone; I joined this training group because I wanted to train with a group. Plus, I am hugely directionally challenged, so the chances of me getting lost during a 10-mile run through suburban Brentwood were quite high. And I didn’t want to drop back to a run-walk-run interval group because that just felt like failure. After all, I  had signed up for this program to run a half marathon, not walk one.

However, my fear of being left behind and getting lost outweighed my fear of failure, and about 4 weeks into the program, I reluctantly joined the 10:1 interval group. We ran for 10 minutes, averaging 11 minutes per mile, followed by a short 1-minute recovery walk, and continued repeating the cycle until we covered our total distance.

That first interval run wasn’t so bad. I was able to easily keep up with the group, and I enjoyed the camaraderie and encouragement of my fellow runners. But I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I had somehow failed. That I wasn’t actually “running” a half marathon.

However, despite my viewing it as a setback, I stuck with my interval group. Everyone was friendly and encouraging, and our pace leader, Erin, was great. Then slowly, week by week, as we continued adding miles and I realized that my finish time was actually faster when I ran intervals than when I didn’t, my mindset began to change.

Instead of viewing my interval running as a failure, I decided to accept myself for the runner that I was, walk breaks and all.

13.1 miles is 13.1 miles. It doesn’t matter if 1 mile of that total distance is walked instead of run. That’s still an accomplishment, and I should be proud of that. I am proud of that.

We’re a little over halfway through the training program; we’ll be running 10 miles this weekend. And sometimes the feelings of failure and inadequacy creep back in. But I have to remind myself that if run-walk-run intervals are good enough for Olympic athletes, they should be good enough for me.

I am a runner. I will no longer qualify that statement with “but I sometimes take walk breaks.” No, I am a runner (period).

30 Before 30: Cinema Edition. The Final List.

17 Jan
Cover of "Citizen Kane (Two-Disc Special ...

Cover of Citizen Kane (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Here it is. The final 30 Before 30 movie list, which I originally wrote about here. These are the 30 movies I plan to see before I turn 30 on January 5, 2012. Most of them are classics. All of them are movies I have never seen. And I have about 350 days to change that.

  1. The Graduate
  2. The Godfather
  3. The Godfather: Part II
  4. St. Elmo’s Fire
  5. The Color Purple
  6. The Shining
  7. Casablanca
  8. Citizen Kane
  9. The Exorcist
  10. It’s a Wonderful Life
  11. A Streetcar Named Desire
  12. Psycho
  13. Cool Hand Luke
  14. The Big Lebowski
  15. Amelie
  16. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  17. City of God
  18. Memento
  19. Rebel without a Cause
  20. Rocky Horror Picture Show
  21. Sophie’s Choice
  22. Heat
  23. Goodfellas
  24. Singin’ in the Rain
  25. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  26. The Usual Suspects
  27. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  28. Terms of Endearment
  29. Love Story
  30. Annie Hall

Wish me luck! I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

30 Before 30: Cinema Edition

11 Jan

Three hundred fifty-nine days from now, I will be saying “Goodbye, twenties!” and “Hello, thirties!”

So to celebrate the last few days of my youth, I thought it would be fun to do a 30 before 30 list. However, since I have less than a year to do this and since I just started an 11 for 2011 list on January 1, I think I’m going to forgo the traditional skydiving, bungee-jumping, climb Mt. Everest hullabaloo and try something a little different. A little more low-key.

I’m making a list of 30 must-see movies to watch before I turn 30. As someone who comes from a somewhat disadvantaged background (You can read more about that here), one of the phrases I hear quite often (usually from my husband) is “What!?! You’ve never seen that movie!?!” There are a lot of classic (and cult classic) movies that I have never seen: The Godfather, The Shining, St. Elmo’s Fire, The Color Purple, Airplane!

Over the next 359 days, I hope to shorten that movies-not-watched list, and I want your input. I’ll be posting the list within the next week or two. What movies do you think I should add?

Project 365: This Week in Photos

10 Jan

January 1, 2011 – January 9, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Year, I’m Not Making Resolutions

2 Jan

Every January, I make a list of the year’s resolutions. You know the type: be kinder, watch less TV, read more books, eat healthy, blog more (Ha!), exercise, be a better person, drink less soda, eat more veggies, blah, blah, blah.

These “resolutions” are well-intentioned, and I’m sure I’ve kept some of them. But there is no tangible way to keep track. Honestly, no matter how significant my desire to “be kinder” is, I’m never going to keep a running tally of every kind thing I do each day and mark it off against all the unkind things. Let’s get real, people, that would be counterproductive.

So this year instead of resolutions, I’m setting goals. Hard and fast, put ‘em on a to-to list and check them off goals. Here we go.

11 Goals for 2011 (Catchy, huh?)

  1. Run a 5k in under 30 minutes. I’ve recently started running again, and I’ve found that the only way for me to keep running is to continually set new goals. I recently completed the No Boundaries Beginner 5k training program with Fleet Feet here in Nashville. I finished our graduation race, the Jingle Bell Run in downtown Franklin, in 32 minutes. But I really wanted to break 30 – so I’m setting that as my goal for this year.
  2. Set a new 1/2 marathon PR. This one may be cheating a little since I have already signed up for a 1/2 marathon training program through Fleet Feet, but it’s my list and I can cheat if I want to. Barring injury, this goal shouldn’t be too hard to complete  considering  my last (and only) 1/2 marathon finishing time is around the 3:32 mark. I’m hoping for under 3 hours for this one. I’ll be running the Country Music 1/2 marathon in April. Wish me luck!
  3. Lose 11 lbs. In 2010, I lost 20 lbs. without setting a goal. Let’s see how I’ll do with a goal in 2011.
  4. Read 11 books. I think I’ll stick with the “11″ theme for the next few goals. I always resolve to read more each year, but I’ve never kept track. Eleven books seems doable, especially since I used to read twice that many each semester when I was an English major in college. My first pick: The Time Traveler’s Wife.
  5. Write 11 letters/notes to 11 different people. Old-fashioned, handwritten, on stationery, sent in the mail letters. I love stationery, and I love getting real mail – as in, not bills – so maybe other people will like receiving them. It’s so quaint, so days-gone-by. I think it will be fun. I might even turn this into a separate little project.
  6. Meet 11 new people. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories, but I’m not exactly a small-talk person, so this one is often hard for me. Maybe setting this goal will give me the push that I need. And by meeting 11 new people, I don’t mean making 11 new BFFs. It just means that I talk to 11 people whom I have never spoken to before.  Actually talk to them beyond just exchanging names.
  7. Send out 11 writing queries or take on 11 freelance assignments, or a combination of the two. I think I’m finally ready to turn my writing dream into a reality. This one is the most daunting on the list.
  8. Organize my closet. It must be done! And I don’t mean just put things where they go; I do that already. I’m talking about a new organizational system installation complete overhaul.
  9. Finish my Centrifuge scrapbook. It’s been seven years since I worked summer camp. It’s about time I complete those last few pages and close the book on Fuge 2004.
  10. Take on the photo a day challenge. Not because I’m a photographer or anything, but because I like to document stuff. I think it will be neat. And I just got this really cool new Windows 7 phone that takes pretty good photos and lets me easily upload them to wherever.  This place will most likely be Twitpic. I already uploaded the photo for Jan. 1 here. These should also show up on my Twitter feed at the bottom of this blog.
  11. Visit a place I’ve never been to before. This could be a new city or maybe a touristy place in Nashville that I’ve never been to. But it has to be significant, not something like the Kroger on Nolensville. That would be lame.

Okay, so that’s my list. Here’s to an unresolved, but goal-oriented 2011.

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Overwhelming: A snapshot of the devastation caused by the Nashville Flood of 2010

16 May

Debris line the streets of a Bellevue neighborhood during the flood recovery process. May 8, 2010

I took this camera-phone photo from the passenger seat of a Honda CR-V as three friends and I were leaving a flood-damaged Bellevue neighborhood late Saturday afternoon, one week after the historic flooding in Middle Tennessee. We had spent the past several hours doing whatever we could to help people we didn’t even know clean up what was left of their homes after the waters had subsided. By the time we had arrived, much of the dirty work had already been done. But we cleaned and sorted and tore down what we could of what was left.

By the end of the day, most of the homes had been completely cleared of possessions.  These had been painstakingly (and I’m sure, tearfully) sorted into separate piles: salvageable items and trash. Family photos, children’s drawings, letters, and high school yearbooks were scattered across backyards to dry out and, in hopes, saved. Books, furniture, appliances, and garbage bags filled with unsalvageable items were piled chest-high out front to be picked up with the trash. Most of the homes had even been stripped down to the frame – carpet, flooring, and drywall removed and added to the piles of debris.

When I looked down the street at an entire row of houses with front lawns piled high with debris, one word came to mind – overwhelming.

From the first day the rain began, I spent hours upon hours poring over photos and video footage of the flooding. I saw photos of these same houses filled with water over my head. I saw the video of the classroom floating down I-24 and the live coverage of the Cumberland cresting and flooding downtown Nashville. I saw the photos of Opry Mills and Opryland and even the Opry stage. These images were all shocking and saddening.

But they were just that to me: shocking images. Seeing photos of the rising water, however, did not compare to seeing the actual damage caused by the water. I was unable to wrap my mind around the depth of the devastation until I saw, firsthand, homes stripped to the bone.  Construction paper drawings that once proudly covered refrigerator doors strewn across lawns. A woman packing up what was left of her belongings, loading them into a car, and pulling out of her driveway with tears in her eyes – tears she had been holding back because until then, there was no time for tears, only tough decisions and hard work. Soggy, mud-covered books being tossed into black heavy-duty trash bags. Entire rows of homes practically hidden by mounds and mounds of curbside debris.

Overwhelming.

But the destruction wasn’t the only thing I found overwhelming that day. In the photo above, if you look past the ruined furniture and the drywall and the trash, you’ll see something else lining the curb. Cars. Cars filled with friends and neighbors, even  strangers. People willing to do the dirty work, the hard labor, the heavy lifting helping people sort through the mud and the debris so they can begin to put their lives back together.

And that made the damage seem a little less overwhelming, a little less devastating, and a little less hopeless. Because in the end, the most reassurance comes in knowing you’re not in it alone.

Nashville, Please Do Your Part to Conserve Water

6 May

After talking with friends recently, I have realized that some people are unaware of the seriousness of the water shortage here in Nashville and the surrounding area. There are people who may not think that it’s a big deal, but conserving water in Nashville is STILL a very serious issue. Just because the flooding has subsided, that doesn’t mean that we are in the clear. Just because life may be returning to normal for you and for others in the area, that doesn’t mean that we are not still in a disaster zone.

If you didn’t already know this, one of our water treatment facilities was flooded and has not been running for several days. That means that we are running at half-capacity. On top of this, our reserves are at around 50% capacity (though that has risen from 37% due to conservation efforts). And though the waters have receded from the treatment facility, repairs need to be made in order for it to be up and running again. There is no estimate on how long this will take. And until this facility is back up and running and our water reserves have been replenished, we are still in danger of having a water shortage.  In other words, many homes across Nashville will have NO running water unless we take steps now to cut back our usage.

To conserve water and to prevent a water shortage, city officials are asking all residents in Davidson and Williamson counties (and possible others) to restrict water usage to only essential use. In practical terms, that primarily means hand washing, cooking, and “navy showers” (turning on water briefly to wet the body, then leaving it off while soaping up). According to Metro Water, lawn watering, watering of plants, car washing, and similar uses are not essential and need to stop until the water shortages are resolved.

A hotline has been set up to report people who aren’t following the water conservation mandate – for example, people who are washing cars or businesses who haven’t shut off their irrigation systems. To report water waste, you can call 862-4600.

For more information and updates on the water shortage from Metro Water, go here.

For more information about the water shortage and the seriousness of it, go here.

And for things you can do to conserve water, here’s a great post from Cool People Care.

As for myself, I haven’t done dishes or laundry since the conservation mandate went into effect. I haven’t washed my hair since Monday. I’ve skipped showers. I’m drinking only bottled water, instead of using the water from the fridge, and I have shut off the automatic ice maker. Even still, I feel like there is more that I can do to help out because ensuring that people have access to water over the coming weeks is more important to me than the minor inconveniences that these conservation methods have caused.

I’m trying my best to do my part. Please, Nashville, I hope you do the same. This isn’t something we have to do forever, just for the next few days until our water supply is back to normal. And things are looking up.

Another Gem from Grandma: What to Do When There Is Ice on Your Windshield

7 Jan

After I posted the previous email from my grandmother, I remembered this equally amusing message she sent to me in a birthday e-card complete with colorful dancing kitty cats and confetti (yes, she recently discovered email).

Happy Birthday again!  Please be careful this cold weather, especially if there is ice or snow, the roads could be very dangerous, Also clean ice or frost off your windshleld.
love you

Obviously, this advice came before she decided I should have my husband drive me around, seeing as I’m a woman and all. Cars are confusing. What’s a windshield, again?

Watch Out for the Invisible Ice – Wise Words from My Grandmother

7 Jan

As we all know, the southeast is under a winter storm advisory for tonight and tomorrow. And as we all know, people in the southeast are not accustomed to snow and ice and, well, just winter in general. So they go a little crazy. For example, here’s the email that I got from my grandmother before I left work this afternoon:

Hi Are you all predicted to get snow & Ice tomorrow? We are. Hope you won’t try to drive in it.. Can be very dangerous. If you go to work, hope Daniel will drive you,but hope you will not go. Sometimes you can’t see the ice. Love you

If you knew her, you would laugh hysterically and then immediately feel sorry for me. So, be safe out there guys and try to avoid the invisible ice.

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