#25: Read 10 Classic Books

I was always an avid reader. I was that kid who read everything she could get her hands on. Yes, that included every book that was assigned. I found some I never would've read that I really enjoyed (The Count of Monte Cristo, All Quiet on the Western Front) and others I found horrid (Siddhartha). Okay okay. I didn't finish Siddartha. I finished Anna Karenina for AP English my junior year out of spite. I wanted to prove that I could do it. Especially once most of my class didn't finish it. I HATED that long, long book. I wanted to read ten classic books before I turned 30. I wanted to pick a mix of books that were on English teachers' book lists, things a lot of people I knew had read in middle or high school and classic works by black authors.

This list was just like a trip back to school. There were some I loved and wished I read earlier and others I never want to even think about again. Let's start with the highs. Number one hands down is.... PRIDE AND PREJUDICE!!!!!! I love this book!!! I want to read it again and again and again! It's so awesome!! I also loved Their Eyes Were Watching God. Awesome. The Grapes of Wrath. I did NOT expect to love this book! I was marginally optimistic about the first two but this was the sleeper hit! So good! I'll tie these at number two! The top three are COMPLETELY different books set in different times, different countries but they have one thing in common: they're all incredibly well-written.

I really liked Oliver Twist but it would come in fourth on the list of the ten books I read. Invisible Man was the most thought-provoking for me, though it got off to a slow start. After the first 150 or so pages (there were 400 more), it was quite good.  It's number five. Coming in at number six, Uncle Tom's Cabin. It was just there for me. I liked it at times, other times didn't. Overall, it was fine. Number seven: Lord of the Flies was similar but more toward the don't like side.

Number eight is Catcher in the Rye. Not at all my kind of book. Overly-indulged rich kid goes around doing whatever he wants. Stream of consciousness. It made me exasperated with people who relate to this book. No thanks. Number nine is The Great Gatsby. I know! It's a true classic. Whatevs. I couldn't connect with the characters or relate to them. That normally doesn't matter to me. But in this case, the characters all felt frivolous. Number ten is Catch 22. I picked it because I've seen the cover blown up to poster size on the walls of Barnes and Noble. It took me months to read. MONTHS. No more picking books like that. Yech.

Overall? This was a great goal! AND my reading bug is officially reignited! For my 35 before 35 (LOLOL), I'm going to read 35 more classic books that I've never tackled. I only need 5 more. Suggestions?


5k Comparisons

After running two 5ks, I'm definitely hooked on racing! I love the camaraderie, the energy and trying to hit a new personal record in some goal or another!  So let's do a side-by-side review of this race and the first one.

My first 5k was at the beach and therefore absolutely BEAUTIFUL! We didn't run on the actual beach, but rather along it and the intercoastal waterway. I couldn't see the beach during the run but I could smell it and enjoyed it before and after.
Result: Draw

Size & Atmosphere
Race one had about 350 people competing in a 5k and a 10k. Race two had about 3500!! Amazing to jump tenfold!! It was so cool seeing so many runners out and about.  It was also a holiday-themed race and I saw Mrs. Claus AND an elf!  At race number one, there was certainly a greater feeling of camaraderie even though I was running with people I knew at race two. The small size and friendliness of the volunteers at race one really helped.
Advantage: Race 2

Race one had free massages and delicious fresh bagels! There were lots of excited people around so that was fun! But I was most excited about the oyster festival. Unfortunately it was a horrible bust with limited oysters. WACK. The times were posted as people were coming in so it was cool to see your times as you came in and unwound. Plus it was my first race so I was SUPER excited!

Race two had lots of food but because of the crowd, there were way too many people in long lines trying to get to it. There were yummy Panera bagels and hot chicken and rice soup. Delicious. But there were no race times and no info on where to find it. What? Why? This was so incredibly frustrating. Even more so because we started at different times.
Result: Draw

Race one was FLAT which was wonderful! I didn't even realize how wonderful until I started training on hills in the weeks after the race! And though it was at the beach, the course was pretty boring.  It looped back before the first mile so I got to see all of these way who were way faster pass me in the first 10 minutes. Pretty demoralizing. But I quickly got over it.

Race two was hilly but near my normal route so I'd run it a few times. It was cool! And really pretty! I enjoyed it! It looped back later in the race so that was easier to take! Plus the last part of the route was mostly downhill which helps you really fly in the home stretch.
Advantage: Race 2

At race one, I got a medal. Who cares about the rest of it? I'm not running any more races without a medal.
Advantage: Race 1

This was the single biggest factor in my race. Race one went off without a hitch. It was on time. It was fun. I was ready to run! Race two? It started 30 minutes late without sufficient explanation. I found out later it was because they didn't shut down pre-race registration when they said they would and there were hundreds of runners still registering when the race was supposed to start. Thirty minutes doesn't sound like much but I got there at 7:25 for a race that was supposed to start at 8:35. It was 40 degrees outside and you see what I was wearing. It was fine for me to start running but not for me to be standing out there for an hour and a half. I couldn't feel my toes for the first 3/4 of a mile. That is not cool. I had also planned my food and water for an 8:35 start so by the time I started I didn't feel appropriately fueled or hydrated. So not cool. This category was a no-brainer.
Advantage: Race 1

While I loved the size and Christmasness of race 2, the organization killed it for me. I like things to be decent and in order. I'm feeling about done with 5ks. For a while at least. (Unless you know of a free local one...) I'm ready for my first 10k in March!
Advantage: Race 1


Christmas Movie Clichés

With the help of watching 20 (so far) new (to me) Christmas movies this year, I've come to recognize some well-worn themes. With this list, I will never torture myself with (so many) horrid Christmas movies again! Despite some moments of torture, I'm still delighted to enjoy the magic of Christmas via film!

1) The workaholic. This is by far one of the most prevalent Christmas themes. The workaholic learns the magic of the holiday.
2) Santa injured/under fire/lost. Let's call this my least favorite Christmas cliché. Wait. So Santa has amnesia? Pass the peas. (I don't know why I said this either.)
3) Christmas in Peril. Sometimes this is forgetful Santa's fault, sometimes it's the Scrooge's. Whoever's at fault, we've got to save Christmas!
4) The Terrible Christmas leads to a sad season for some lovable person. Oh man. This is a person in deep need of learning the true meaning of Christmas! You've had a rough go of it at Christmas, eh? Well I guess that's why you need us!
5) Love fixes Christmas. This is actually my favorite Christmas cliché. Rom com and Christmas? Count me in!
6) Dead or deadbeat parent and/or the widow(er). A person who hasn't known love since their beloved dies finds it at Christmas. The struggling kids get a new parent that they finally learn to love at Christmas. I do not like this one at all. It's so unbelievable. I can't stand you but at Christmas I suddenly realize the error of my ways? Even as a surly teenager? Right. About that...
7) Absentee Mrs. Claus. Where is Mrs. Claus in these movies?? I saw so many Christmas movies with a santa but no Mrs. Claus. Bizarre.
8) A new Santa. Santa's retiring or dying and we've gotta find a new one! Now this one is also related to Christmas in peril because sometimes the search for a new Santa means if he's not replaced, Christmas DIES!!
9) Christmas wedding. Another fave! Everyone loves a Christmas wedding in the movies! In life I've never seen or known anyone who had one. Hmm...
10) Be careful what you wish for on Christmas... a little magic might make it come true. I like this one, too! But I like it better without the "magic" sounds. You know it. It also sounds just like a fairy getting her wings.
11) Big city guy/gal learns an important lesson in a small town. This is an important theme for all well-worn cliché-filled spectacles. Don't you know people in small towns are more real? And people in big cities only care about money and all things temporal? If not, you learned it in this magical money.
12) The Scrooge. There's always a person who thinks Christmas is terrible. This one is often rolled up into four or more other Christmas clichés. Its closest cousin is big city guy/gal learns an important lesson, the true meaning of Christmas, the workaholic and be careful what you wish for on Christmas.
13) The True Meaning of Christmas. Ah. The cliché to end all clichés! If at the end of the movie, you don't know love is at the heart of the true meaning of Christmas, then I guess you don't have a heart or a soul or you just weren't paying attention!


The Definition of Fall Back

Sometimes people don't know how to leave well enough alone. Or how to mind their own business. This... is the definition of fall back. Long story short: I was good friends with a guy, we dated, broke up, talked a few times then I ignored him for a couple of years. He got the hint and hasn't attempted to talk to me in over a year. I got married this year and so did he. Cool.

We have a mutual friend who thinks ex & I need to be friends again. Wait. What?The two of them are actually much closer than her and I probably ever were. Me and this girl now talk about television occasionally. Like three times in a month via facebook and then nothing for months. Once a year or so, she brings the ex up to me. Monday was my lucky(ish?) day. She tells me she's not sure how we left things but she thinks ex needs his bud and we can probably talk about newlywed things.

Hol up ma'am. So ex and I haven't talked in years but because it crossed your mind and we got married in the same year, you think we should... What? Alright then. Do I attempt to tell you how to raise your children? Did you think about that message before you sent it? I assumed you didn't REALLY think about it which is why I didn't bother to address that with you. I'm pretty sure the newlywed stuff I need to discuss can be discussed with any of the FOUR 2011 newlywed couples I actually have a relationship with or...OR... and this is a long shot. Stick with me. I think I could talk to my favorite newlywed... my husband.

*drops mic*


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 128

1)  I've been internet ghost. Here's why. I called AT&T to remove auto-pay from my account to pay manually. They marked it as a disconnect. I call to have them fix it on Friday and talk to 7 people in an hour and a half. One told me it would be back on by 6. Another said he would find out what happened and have me compensated and he'd call me back. Never called back. Weekend w/o internet. PISSED. Last Monday after another half hour on the phone, I'm finally told they'll shut down that account and create a new one to give me the promotional rate which is $30 less per year than what I'm currently paying. BUT the internet will still be off until December 21st, TWELVE days later. Guess who has zero love for AT&T now. One guess.
2) I hate when cards are addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Rashan (last name). I promise my name is not Mrs. Rashan. It's Jameil. Promise. My mom doesn't get it. "You 21st century women." I am. I'm okay with that. The Last Names? Cool? Mr. & Mrs. Rashan & Jameil? Great. Mr. & Mrs. Rashan last name? Fail.
3) If you're over 25 and you think you can eat whatever you want and drink whatever you want and still have a good workout, you're wrong. If you don't drink water, you will cramp. If you don't eat things other than fast food, you can't perform at peak.
4) My mom suggested a Christmas fish fry. Y'all know I'm open-minded when it comes to food but, lady, you have lost your mind. Christmas Eve fish fry? Let's do it. Post-Christmas fish fry? It's on. But no to Christmas. THEN she mentioned SEVEN desserts for 4 people. One of them has diabetes, another high cholesterol and EVERYONE is watching their waistlines. I shut all of that down with a QUICKNESS. Yes, I'm the kitchen crazy at her house because everyone wants me to cook. Furthermore, if I don't take charge, we'll eat whatever my mom thinks of Christmas afternoon after I beg her to cook. Not on my watch.
5) Was Next Iron Chef awesome? Or was it awesome??? Loved it! And now I want to do a goat cheese-brussels sprouts puree for Christmas!
6) If you saw that movie post from the last two weeks, I've been on a Christmas movie binge of late. Tis CRAY. It's been so crazy that it's prompted a list of Christmas movie cliches. Thursday 13.
7) I want to make a beef wellington...
8) I wish I could eat parsnips. I see SO MANY great recipes! But last Thanksgiving I had an INSANE reaction to them. Itchy throat and snot faucet for HOURS. Carrots make my throat itch but parsnips (carrot cousins) make my body attack. :(
9) My favorite thing about watching food shows is calling out the unusual foods before the narrator can. :)
10) Rashan brought home chocolate-dipped sugar cookies topped with crushed peppermint. WHAT?!?! I could've easily eaten the whole bag! And I might have eaten 7/8 of it...
11) In some ways, Stacey and I are the same person and it is an awesome and hilarious experience talking to her. Can't wait to visit her in New York and rob the city of as much of its food as possible. LEGGO!!!
12) I've cooked three meals and prepared a salad dressing from one of my Rick Bayless books in the last week. So yummy! That man is ON IT!
13) I love my husband. BUNCHES! Tis all...

Hm... looks like I might be ever so slightly obsessed with food... I wonder if I could create a class on the evolution of food journalism... methinks I could and it would be awesome. *Mind twerks*

Movies 2011: Weeks 49 & 50

*I apparently forgot how to count at some point in this journey toward millions of movies. Oops! You know what I meant. :)

December 4-10, 2011
202) Beginners. A graphic artist comes to grips with his father's death just a few years after learning the elderly man is gay and wants to act on it publicly. That's what the movie is billed as, anyway. And the moments where Christopher Plummer is on screen are wonderful. But too few. Quiet, sad indie film. It was very well-liked by many others. I was only lukewarm to this film. 3.3 stars
203) Mother is a Freshman. 1959 movie about a mother who enrolls in college and finds herself crushing on the same man as her daughter. Cute movie. A short and fun watch! 3.9 stars
204) In the Meantime, Darling. World War II-era film about a well-to-do woman who marries a military man and finds herself out of place when living on the base. Cute if propagandistic and a bit vapid. 3.7 stars
205) Easy. Indie film about a loose girl who always sleeps with the wrong guys. She then meets two nice guy contenders when she decides to impose celibacy upon herself. The gratuitous nudity was annoying but the story line was pretty good. 3.5 stars
206) Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Silent film about the ups and downs of married life. I was very surprised to be into this story from the beginning. It was intriguing from the start and kept up the excitement despite being silent. If you look at Netflix, don't be alarmed. The film is 95 minutes. Their disc just includes two versions. I enjoyed the soundtrack version. 4 stars
207) Super. A husband fights crime after his wife leaves him for a drug dealer. This film stars Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page and Kevin Bacon. As strange as you would imagine. Moments of interest and wondering how it could possibly end. Outlandish. 3.4 stars
208) The Change-Up. Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds star as best friends with opposite lives (one married, one wild and single) accidentally switch lives. Some terrible and unnecessary computer-generated graphics. An outrageous amount of gratiuitous cursing and nudity. Just ridiculous. You expect a certain amount of unbelievability in a movie about a magical switch but this took things way too far. Worse, it was far too long. Almost two hours for a comedy??? Really??? Why?? 2 stars

December 11-17, 2011
You might notice a slight changeover to Christmas... :) I have no problem suspending parts of my sometimes snobby filmmaker-ness for Christmas. But only SOME parts... as you'll see.
209) 12 Dates of Christmas. A woman bent on winning back her ex-boyfriend is forced to relive a blind date 12 times until she gets it right. So cute! Even Rashan enjoyed it! 4 stars
210) Santa Incident. Two kids save Santa and nurse him back to health after his sleigh is shot down by a military plane. But they also have to enlist the town to protect Santa from agents bent on imprisoning him before Christmas. Blech. Some relatively amusing parts but really only a child will like this. And then only if they're younger than ten. 2.4 stars
211) Farewell Mr. Kringle. Christine Taylor stars in this Christmas movie about a widowed writer who's given up on love and Christmas until she's assigned to cover a town dedicated to Santa Claus. Probably overly mushy. I might listen to it if there was nothing else on but I would prefer to watch something else. 2.9 stars
212) Santa Who? A newsman tries to help an apparently homeless amnesiac find his family. Santa has amnesia! Extremely sappy. Leslie Nielsen is awesome as Santa, though. 2.8 stars
213) Eve's Christmas. Le sigh. Elisa Donovan stars in this film about an ad exec who wishes on a star to be able to fix things with her ex-fiancé. So Lifetime movie sappy. Do not want. 2 stars
214) Secret Santa. A reporter (Jennie Garth) goes in search of the Secret Santa who anonymously helps a small town. I'm sure it's heartwarming to someone. I drowned in sap. Here lies Jameil. 2.9 stars
215) Larry Crowne. Tom Hanks stars as a man downsized in the economic downturn who decides to go to college for the first time. He ends up falling for his professor (Julia Roberts) in this film at the confluence of several modern events-- foreclosure, texting in class, downsizing leading to a calling. Just okay. It's one of those films you can pay some attention to but you could also have running in the background and not miss much. 3 stars
216) A Holiday Engagement. A woman hires a man to pose as her fiance when she goes home for the holidays. Shelley Long plays a caricature of a mom in a very strange role. Just okay. 3 stars
217) A Princess for Christmas. A duke wants to finally meet his orphaned, estranged children so their caretaker aunt might as well come along. Looks like somebody's gonna be a princess for Christmas! Plot wasn't airtight but it was enough to be entertaining. 3.5 stars
218) Our First Christmas. Julia Sugarbaker (that's her real name) is the nervous family matriarch in a newly-formed family of a widow and widower and their children. Predictable... which is to be expected in Christmas movies. But with stilted acting and poor dialogue all over the place, it was absolutely wearying. 2.5 stars
219) A Christmas Proposal. Opposing counsel and one-time loves battle over the creation of a ski resort in their hometown. Not good. 2 stars
220) Christmas in Boston. Two longtime pen pals each send their best friends to pose as them when they meet for the first time. You've Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle & When Harry Met Sally rolled up into one. So cute! 4 stars
220) Annie Claus is Coming to Town. An elf interferes with Santa's daughter to make her fall in love. But there are two men competing for her affection. Cute. 3.4 stars
221) Unknown. Liam Neeson stars as a man who wakes up from a coma in a German hotel and no one knows who he is because someone's assumed his identity. Pretty awesome thriller. 4 stars


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 127

I'm in internet purgatory. The sordid details coming later in the week but for now, Monday Mindspacing on Tuesday...

1) Etsy sellers who go on vacation around Christmas? Not bright.
2) Rashan and I decided Robert California can't last on "The Office" at this rate. He's getting too ridiculous. Not as bad as Will Ferrell last year but still. Those episodes are unwatchable.
3) You'll be pleased to know the Christmas menu is officially underway! There was great difficulty because no one has anything they must have for Christmas except dressing and sweet potato pie. Ummm... what? How do I narrow down a menu like that? Do better, people.
4) I wish I could block profanity from my twitter timeline. It would really help my quest to keep cursing out of my life.
5) My favorite thing about my new phone is app exploration. This week's fave is Pulse because it exposes me to news sources I wouldn't ordinarily see. Least fave? iPhone-only apps. Fix.
6) Did you hear about the proposed (essentially imminent) post office cuts? It will make mail even slower. Mine already gets here after 6 if at all. So wack.
7) I ran 3.5 on Thursday and 3.6 Sunday at faster than ever paces and felt AMAZING both times!!
8) I'm going to be saturating myself in Christmas music and movies for the rest of the month!! Can't wait!!!!!! I never let my filmmaker sensibilities get in the way of jolly Christmas films! Okay that's not totally true. I don't particularly like kiddie Christmas movies. I love a good romcom Christmas! Love it! There are 29 unwatched Christmas movies on the DVR and I've already watched for others!!
9) Have you ever seen a perfume spritzer just randomly spray someone in a store? Matter of fact, have you ever seen a person in the store spraying perfume on people? I'm convinced both of these only exist in the movies and on television.
10) I secretly want an arm full of slim diamond bracelets one day. I don't care if it's gaudy. The secret's out. Boom.
11) I love gifts in triplicate. I really don't think gifts should exist without at least two sidekicks. They don't have to be huge but those gifts need friends!
12) Christmas has made me remember I have cookbooks I've never cooked from. I've fixed that with two books since Thanksgiving and I still have at least SIX to go. But I still want a slow cooker cookbook... I have at least 150 recipes saved on my computer. I could use only saved recipes and those from cookbooks I own for at least 18 months without repeating. Out of control.


Christmas List 2011

The theme for this year's Christmas is RUNNING! Surprised you, didn't I? LOL Those are the most reasonable things and turns out I really want them. I've gotten a few early Christmas gifts so that's extra exciting!
  1. Running shoes!!!  This is number one for a reason!  I want this MOST of all! Done! Thanks Rashan!
  2. Registration for this 10k or this half marathon.   I want these second most!
  3. An arm holder for my phone/i.d./key, a Black Girls Run! t-shirt (Got a sweatshirt, thanks to Mom!), running clothes (pants, jacket in indigo grey, long-sleeved shirt in black or fuschia, jacket in black or fuschia, running headband) compression socks, a head lamp & running gloves. A foam roller.
  4. Other random workout stuff like a ball, a medicine ball and a kettle bell
  5. A job. What? God sees Christmas lists, too! :)
  6. A stand or hand mixer. I currently mix everything by hand. Yeah. Nuff said.
  7. Apple Corer. Chain pie weight. Both from Crate and Barrel. I'll probably use my gift card to get these for myself. Merry Christmas to me!
  8. A slow cooker cookbook like this one primarily and this one secondarily.


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 126

1) HGTV has clued me in to something: I don't like futuristic toilets. Tell me that toilet is not scary-looking. I think most of all I hate its squareness. Why does that toilet look like a box? But I'm also amused to think one day that might be a relatively basic/normal toilet.
2) I bet my mom's blood pressure skyrockets every time she thinks about her latest interactions with her mom. She always starts yelling. It's insane.
3) I ran my 2nd 5k on Saturday! But it was just okay... I felt like I could've run faster. :/  I was trying to stay with my running partner. But I did like my festive attire. I'll do a comparison with the first 5k later. For those of you who are in training, how's it going????
4) Rashan and I have been married 5 months AND we only recently realized we'll be married 6 months on New Years Day!!! Awesome! To bring in our 6 month anniversary every year, we get fireworks, champagne and a giant party! I couldn't have planned it better if I tried! And our actual anniversary is 4th of July weekend? PARTY EVERY SIX MONTHS!!!
5) I think I want to start painting my nails regularly again. I want OPI's Big Apple Red.
6) I only liked the first season of Dexter a little. Not enough to continue. But I'm really enjoying the current season.
7) I've started playing a game with Rashan. I do something big, noticeable and wait for him to notice. I put up a wreath inside and switched the one outside. He didn't notice until I mentioned it. I put a rather large sleigh full of gold and red Christmas ornaments on the DVR. He missed it for the first 2 hours he was home... watching tv. I had a bunch of papers I was organizing covering a large section of the living room that I put away. I had to call his attention to it. It cracks me up!! I can't WAIT for tonight! :)
8) I have lots of goals I need to accomplish before the end of the year. I'm on my way but I have to focus. I'm ready. I approach my goals like I approach a race. Head down, enjoy it as you go but most of all, FINISH.
9) I love watching Zakarian freak out every week on Next Iron Chef. I never expected him to become one of my faves! And I certainly didn't expect to not love Samuelsson as much as I once did. OR to really really like Faulkner!
10) I love my husband. I have a blast with him! He delights me, he supports me every step of the way, he adores me. That last one is why my mom loves him. He doesn't care who sees it. One day we'll be those parents embarrassing the mess out of their children with their love!
11) One of my mom's high school classmates doesn't have email. In 2011. Fix yourself. Right now.
12) Can you believe I haven't really thought about my Christmas menu? I'm pretty sure I'm going to cook whatever is on sale at my fave (Harris Teeter) that week. Ooh! I forgot I get to go to Trader Joe's since we'll be in Charlotte. There, too! :)


Movies 2011, Weeks 44-46

I've been reading a lot so movie-watching is falling out of favor. I can't seem to get into a rhythm of doing both regularly. I suppose next year is the year of that.

November 6-12, 2011
193) American Teen. Documentary about teenagers at a high school in Indiana.  It was an interesting story to watch and I really felt for some of the characters.  It seemed like an accurate high school story for I'm sure many teenagers but without more diversity than a black kid with 2 lines, of course it could only go so far for me.  Still enjoyable.  3.7 stars
194) The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls. The story of singing comedic lesbian twins from New Zealand is a concert film with touches of their activism.  The comedy was enjoyable in spurts.  I guess I was expecting less of a concert film and more of an exploration of the women.  Beautifully shot but the story just fell a bit flat for me.  3.2 stars
195) Blair Witch Project. Wow. I hadn't seen this movie because so many people talked about how horrible it was. I already knew I wouldn't be afraid of it because it's one of those movies people either say "I was terrified" or they blank stare you.  I'd be in the blank stare category.  Pass.  2 stars
196) The Big Clock. This noir film is about a private detective who finds himself solving a murder where he is the suspect.  Very interesting and a fun watch!  The best thing about noir films is the irreverence for the characters.  ANYONE is fair game to die. When you say it like that, it sounds terrible! But for films? It's great! 4 stars
197) The Harvey Girls. Judy Garland and Angela Lansbury star in this musical about a mail order bride who joins a group of waitresses at a new whistle stop restaurant when her marriage plans fall through.  Then the towns puritans and rougher element battle for control.  Amusing enough.  3.4 stars
198) CatchingHell. OMG. The longest documentary in the entire world about a single fraction of a second event.  I didn't care anymore about SteveBartman being a scapegoat for the ChicagoCubs losing a trip to the WorldSeries in 2008.  Unless you are the ultimate fan and you feel some need to relive this forever and in excruciating detail, I don't know why you would need to watch this film. 2 stars

November 20-26, 2011
199) HappyThankYouMorePlease. Josh Radnor (Ted on "How I Met Your Mother) directs and stars in this film about a struggling writer (I know) who finds and keeps a foster kid he finds on the train until he can figure something out (I know) and the women in his life and the intertwining relationships.  As it unravels, some nice things happen in the plot.  But there are some loose ends he never quite ties and others he ties too neatly to feel real or worthy. And still it's a nice movie to watch. 3.7 stars
200) Sarah's Key. A journalist finds her family history is entangled with the story of a Jewish French girl whose family was murdered by the French during WWII.  Very moving story. The writer got lazy at some parts, relying on clichéd and overused language to push a story that really didn't need any pushing. There were times where I knew the exact line that was coming next. But for the most part, it was quite good if at times unbelievable. 3.7 stars

November 27-December 3, 2011
201) Due Date. Robert Downey, Jr. and Zack Galifianakis star in this film about two strangers who wind up driving across the country together after an airport mishap. I am SHOCKED by how much I laughed during this movie! And RDJ is PERFECT for this role! It got overly ridiculous after the first hour (of course) so that dropped it down a bit but still quite funny. 3.5 stars


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 125

Welcome back! Thanksgiving left me feeling reeeeefreshed!  Despite the non-stop noise of 4 kids at my mother-in-law's house.  This is mostly Thanksgiving with a little bit of extraneous random.
1) Remember that episode of Scrubs where Elliot let Carla live with her while her and Turk figured out their issues?  Remember when Elliot said to J.D. about Carla, "NO ONE IS EXEMPT FROM THAT RULE!!!"?  This happened to me yesterday but with my own rule: STOP TALKING TO ME IN THE MORNING!!
2) My mom's reunion probably deserves its own post.  In 1971, her 10th grade class was the first to be integrated in Jackson, MS.  (Yes, schools were SUPPOSED to be integrated following Brown v. Board in 1954.) All the 10th graders in the city were in one school.  They had their 40th reunion this weekend.  It was segregated.  Only the black kids were invited.  Mom.  SERIOUSLY!?!  She couldn't understand my dismay.  "We didn't like each other."  Well maybe there are more of you that are ready to heal from that. When you know better, you do better. They need to do better. We're gonna have another discussion about this.
3) My mom also has a classmate who has 8 grandchildren and FIVE great-grandchildren.  WAS SHE PREGNANT WHEN YOU LAST SAW HER 40 YEARS AGO!?!?!  Off the chain.
4) It is reconfirmed that I don't know how to deal with sleepy children.  "If you're tired, be quiet and go to sleep." -Thy Good Sir, Christopher of the Bridges Clan
5) I shall never tire of hearing my nieces and nephews (from Rashan) call me Aunt Jameil!!!  Well at least not for a few years. So cute!
6) Speaking of the children, my 14yo niece can take and give verbal jabs and it is AWESOME!  The sparring! I love it! My sister and I played Just Dance with niece and 5yo nephew and yes I did taunt niece every single song I beat her on. LOLOL I do NOT let kids win. Let's go! AND she's never had raw oysters but is willing to try. I can't WAIT to introduce her to them!
7) I finally met Rashan's only aunt and uncle this weekend. This is weird on many levels but let's stick with a. that he has one uncle and through him an aunt seeing as I have 13 blood aunts & uncles and b. that we're just meeting this weekend. Regardless, they loved me! :)  I'd also never met his TWO living first cousins (to my 36...) so I met one of them.  More love.  :)
8) When we left, the kids said, "See you Christmas!" I might have objected a little too vehemently.  Whoops. Rashan and I decided years ago Thanksgiving with his family, Christmas with mine. We deviated last year and I was miserable. I still love you and you can come to my mom's house but Christmas is in Charlotte until we have kids and then it's probably wherever we are.
9) It does make me sad that Rashan's brother and his two kids are all the way in northern Virginia so we don't get to see them much. I miss the munchkins! They are ADORABLE!!
10) Remember how I said after cooking all day on Thanksgiving I just want to lay down and take a nap and eat later? STILL TRUE!! Next year if Thanksgiving is with the in-laws? I'm cooking way less. Dressing, my now famous french onion soup & maybe a turkey. There's plenty of other food and though they are appreciative, it's not worth the work.
11) I was so excited to see Christmas trees at Whole Foods the other day that I tried to hug one... LOLOL!
12) I hate losing. HATE IT!! If I lose to you in anything, I'm coming back to win. I'm never stopping a streak on a loss. If I haven't yet beat you in Words With Friends... and there aren't many... I'm coming for you. I played a 105-point word against Rashan the other night after he set up quark and left a TRIPLE WORD space! He knew his mistake as soon as he hit send. I made QUARKS across and SIZE down then told EVERYBODY I KNOW!!!! :)


2011 Year End Goals

With just a 7 weeks left in the year, I want to review and revise my 2011 goals and see what else I can make happen.  You already know my 2012 goals are being created!  Tis awesome!

1) Complete at least 12 30 for 30 goals.  Whoa.  I've done 5... I was going to say I don't forsee making it to 12 but after looking at them again, I'm pretty sure I can.  It's on!  The ones I want to tackle are take a cooking class/take a dance class, watch AFI's top 100 films, read 10 classic books, ride a mechanical bull, make & keep a budget and learn how to hem clothing.
2) Read 40 books this year.  I will crush this goal!  I've already read 38.  I love this and I'm really glad I put this on my list.  From fiction to nonfiction to professional development, I've read some great (and not so great) books!
3) Try at least 100 new recipes.  Passed that late September, early October.
4) Get a full-time teaching position in a great program.  I don't know if this will happen before the end of the year but I'm optimistic it will happen before the end of next summer.  In the meantime I have varied my options. 
5) Work out more.  I can definitely say I've worked out more this year than in the previous year!  Woohoo!!
6) Make sartorial magic.  I didn't find a tailor but I did do some interesting things with the clothes I already own.  Fashion blogs helped A LOT with that!  In this last month or so, I want to continue to make interesting and intriguing fashion choices.  I want to impress myself every time I leave the house!
7) Send Christmas cards.  I'm thinking it might be semi-newslettery since we had a big year! :)
8) Complete two syllabi.
9) Complete two short films.


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 124

1) Most hilarious film review I've read in a while: yeah, this movie is literally made of filth. It is absolutely terrible, don't even be curious, if you happen to rent this movie throw it in the garbage when you recieve [sic] it and then request it again and repeat the process until the movie is no longer in stock.  (About a BlairWitch rip-off)
 2) I got a new phone!  I still don't believe in buying phones.  That means I get a new phone every two years when my contract is up.  Well Rashan and I have now merged our phone accounts [& car insurance (I guess this means we're really married now!!)] so I got a new phone and I LOVE IT! Droooooid. I've been Words With Friending (Jameil1922) it up for over a week! I also found and immediately made a recipe from an Allrecipes.com shake-up app. That app is definitely competing with WWF for fave! On a related note, Swype texting is AMAZING!
3) I finished Couch to 5k two weeks ago and I've run 2.5 or more miles 3 times since!!!!!  WOOHOO!!!  I feel magical!!  In December, my running partner and I will start either the Bridge to 10k or a 1/2 marathon training program. I want to run at least one 10k and maybe a half before I turn 30 next year.  Woot!
4) Every couple of years, bloggers fall off of the map which means blogging becomes boring because very few people comment and few still post regularly. It makes me want to post less as well.  Sigh.  I hate having to find new people to interact with.  If I wanted to write and not care if anyone read, I would have a private blog.
5) One of my Hampton friends and two of my cousins are pregnant right now.  Somebody better be left to be my pregnancy buddy in a few years OR ELSE!!!
6) I'm starting my Thanksgiving cooking today and I'm soooo excited!
7) I have a secret... after I cook my face off for Thanksgiving I don't feel like eating when everyone else does.  I want to take a nap then come back later.  Just gimme some fried oysters to tide me over and I'll see y'all in a couple of hours. No one else likes this idea.
8) Don't forget to read The Hunger Games for the blog book club on December 5th!


That Virtue...

God bless my PATIENT husband.  Through all of his jerkiness (some of it shocking in its hilarity), he really has a calming spirit. Even when I'm tense and at my nuttiest, I can relax around him. I am notoriously not a morning person.  If I'm up in the early morning hours (see: any time prior to 9am), I always want it to be because I haven't been to bed yet, not because I'm up starting my day.  But no matter how much sleep I've had or how close to my ideal waking hour I am, please don't talk to me in the first hour.  You can feed me.  As a matter of fact, please do!  But please, please keep talking to a minimum.

Here's what I need you to do in the morning.
  1. Please leave or do your thing as quietly as possible. This is to ensure you don't disturb me. I probably need two more hours of rest than you do.  And unless I'm really tired, I am a light sleeper.  
  2. Don't say my name.  No matter how asleep I am, I always hear my name and answer to it.  My friends discovered this in undergrad.  It makes me laugh!  Unless I'm sleeping...
  3. When you hear me stirring (or more likely see me on twitter/fb), begin to prepare or gather my preferred breakfast.  Yes I did.  I rarely stray from the classics when not dining at a restaurant.  For fast food I either want a bacon, egg & cheese or a sausage egg mcmuffin with cheese.  With hash browns.  I don't trust fast food grits.  Even in the south.  If you're going to Chick-fil-a or Bojangles, I want a spicy chicken biscuit.  Again, hash browns.  If you have never had a Chick-fil-a buttery biscuit, fix your life immediately.  At home I want eggs (over medium), grits & bacon or sausage.  I can really have either bacon or sausage depending on the day and/or my mood.  Sometimes I don't care.  Sometimes I want a piece of each.  It's weird to me that some days I can't decide.  I like them both quite equally.  Unless it's turkey bacon.  I like all kinds of sausage (chicken, turkey, pork, veggie) but bacon shall only be pork.  It was written.* Side note: I made cooked (my mom hates when I cook and say make) an egg last night and Rashan was jumping when I flipped the egg in the pan. Sir... please take a seat if you're going to flinch at me using a pan to flip a single egg.
  4. Feed me said breakfast.  Silently.
  5. Check the clock.  If one hour has passed since you heard the stirring or read the tweets, proceed with the day.  But SLOWLY.  You are never sure whether the sleeping bear has fully awakened.
My fave roomie in college was the exact same way.  It plays a huge role in why she was my favorite roommate.  The first thing we need to say when getting ready in the morning is good-bye as we walk out the door.  I truly loved this about her.  It makes me happy all over again reminiscing about it!

On my wedding day, BFF Stace was SOO excited for me!  I was, too.  But I wasn't awake yet.  So I wanted her to calm down and keep it quiet.  I feel like when I first wake up I can hear EVERYTHING. If we've not yet passed the hour mark and I'm chatting and seem almost like myself, it is still not time for loudness. I already hear quite well (everything if you ask my dad!) and have an outrageous sense of smell but when I first wake up?  The slightest sound is magnified.  Do I have a tumor?  Please tell me that doesn't mean I have a tumor. Because I know it's not a hangover.

Fast forward to today and how this all relates back to my patient husband.  He's not quite as stringent on his rules but he does need a little time to fully awaken before he's ready to interact with me.  This is fine except on those days like today when I have been awake for hours.  By the time he's up, I'm ready to have a party!  And I've been waiting for HOURS to talk to him!  He always fights valiantly to participate in these chats before asking me to turn it from 11 to 5.5.  And he's so polite about it.  If I have to ask you to turn down your enthusiasm... tisn't pretty.  So bless him!  LOL

*If you are surprised that the most detailed portion of this post was about food, welcome.  This must be your first time here!  LOLOL Peruse The Record Dish for my food craziness and later today... MY 2011 THANKSGIVING MENU!!!


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 123

*Update: I stopped in the middle of number 10 but I finished it! Oops!
1) You know the game Boggle? I LOVE IT!! And I haven't played in years. I want it for Christmas. I will play by myself if I have to!
2) Speaking of Christmas, I haven't gotten heavy into the music yet but I promise it's coming!! I finish the Couch to 5k program TOMORROW!!! I'll be moving to Christmas music on Thursday.  :)  And my Christmas list will be coming later this month as well!
3) My least favorite running encouragement, "If I can do it, anyone can." I think it minimizes what you did.
4) Old people on fb crack me up!  "Hey Rashan! I sent you message when you got married. But I think I sent it to myself."  What?!?!  How would you send yourself a message you thought you sent to someone else??? OMG!  I hope I'm telling this right.  We laughed for like 15 minutes over this!!
5) It's daylight saving time, not daylight savingS time. No S.  Yep.  I'll say this yearly until I stop seeing it on fb & twitter.  Educate the masses.
6) I wanna make cheese...
7) Are you guys ready for my Thanksgiving menu!?!?  I am!!  It's super time for me to share!  This week!  I shan't ... SHALL NOT... keep you in suspense much longer!  I have a secret... I don't like cranberry sauce that much and I certainly don't see the point in making it.  Did I tell you my sister-in-law is trying to go vegan?  But she never ate that much so I don't really have to go crazy veganizing everything.
8) Every time I go to Rashan's mom's house, I always have free reign of her kitchen. (It's so nice to not have in-law drama.) I make mental lists of the gadgets I need to add to my arsenal when I get a bigger kitchen!  It.is.AMAZING.
9) I asked Rashan if he had a pet rock. He said, "No. I'm not that old." LOLOL But close. Pet rocks started in '75.  He was born in '74.
10) I love comedies and romantic comedies.  I almost never care about the romance in dramas! OMG shut up and blow up something!!!
11) I watched the Voltaggio Thanksgiving special.  I wanted it to be more than it was... I was most appalled when.... one of them BASTED a turkey with MAYONNAISE!!!  Y'all.  I don't like mayo anyway but you want me to baste a turkey with it?!?!?!?! I just... *drops mic*
12) You know what's ridiculous? How much better Quaker Oatmeal Squares are dry than in their intended purpose.  They're awesome dry and disgusting in milk.
13) I think I'm gonna give Seinfeld another try. For the12th time. I might start at the beginning.
14) After watching this, I want Rashan to thank me for regularly attacking his eyebrows.  I don't want him to have to go on television in defense of them.  Oh Andy!  LOL


Movies 2011, Weeks 41-43

October 16-22, 2011
182) Little Fockers. Awful AWFUL film.  The 10th (?) in this series that started out as a good one and has since veered horribly off track.  1 star
183) Bad Teacher. Cameron Diaz stars as a terrible teacher who will do anything to make the money for a boob job.  Better than Little Fockers.  That's something.  Crude humor.  Sad, predictable writing.  Not worth your time.  2 stars.
184) Intolerance. D.W. Griffith's follow-up to the much-maligned "Birth of A Nation" about intolerance through the ages.  Incredibly slow-moving 3 hour 17 minute silent film that  intercuts four tales.  I promise you I wanted this film to end before it even started.  That's not fair but I felt justified by the incredibly long shots with little to no action in the first 10 minutes alone.  It picked up toward the end and I even liked one of the story lines but that wasn't enough to make this film worth watching. 2 stars

October 23-29, 2011
185) Lawrence of Arabia. This epic film is based on the true story of a British soldier's conflicted loyalties during World War I as he helped Arabs unite against the Turks.  Interesting but you know how I feel about long films.  3.3 stars
186) BrotherNumberOne. Foreign documentary about a NewZealander who traces the steps of his boating brother killed by Cambodia's KhmerRouge.  The film follows the surviving brother as he testifies at the trial of a murderer.  It was a take on one family's struggle to get justice for a murdered family member.
187) Brother's Keeper. A documentary about four reclusive brothers thrust into the spotlight when one brother is accused of killing another brother in the bed they shared.  This was one of the few times I understood and even needed the inclusion of the filmmakers.  You got the impression the Wards would never have spoken in more than a few words if the filmmakers hadn't spoken up to ask questions.  With the ever-changing facial hair, often similar facial hair, it was very difficult for me to tell the brothers apart for much of the film.  If not for bacon and burgers, the pig slaughter scene might have made me a vegetarian.  The access to the brothers as well as the courtroom was magnificent!  Really intriguing, well-crafted film.  4.4 stars
188) Facing Ali. A documentary about 10 men who faced Muhammad Ali, including his most famous fights.  Pretty awesome weaving of the interviews and Ali footage.  Great usage of fonts.  There were times where the story got off track as the filmmaker looked at non-Ali moments in the boxers' lives.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes not.  But you know what I hate?  When the wrap-up has a sad portion (Ali's Parkinsons) and there's emotional music that completely changes the tone of the film.  This film would've been even better without that to detract.  3.7 stars

October 30- November 5, 2011
189) Beats, Rhymes & Live: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest. Michael Rapaport follows the famous group with communications issues.  Though it was filmed during a 2008 reunion tour, most of the time spent in the film has no obvious connection to the journey the film's title implies.  The conflicts between Phife and Tip were sloppily handled and given high credence in the film with a perplexing wrap-up.  This film probably would have been better if it was not directed by a fan.  Fandom got in the way of a story line.  As someone unfamiliar with ATCQ music (Yes, I'm young), I enjoyed the music but that wasn't enough to propel me through the bizarrely loose "plot" points.  I was frustrated and confused trying to piece together a narrative where none existed.  Rashan is a HUGE Tribe fan; but through his musical excitement, he was still able to see the flaws in this movie.  If you're a Tribe fan, I'm sure you'll want to see it, but if you are a student of film, you will find it lacking. 3 stars
190) Sing Your Song. A documentary film about the actor, singer & humanitarian Harry Belafonte.  The access to the actor was magnificent as the film takes a look at his career and more interestingly for me, his activism in America, the Caribbean and Africa.  It also explored his role as a husband and father.  I have immense respect for what he and the people around him did.  Amazing.  4 stars
191) A Little Help. Jenna Elfman stars as a recent widow who reaches out to an old boyfriend for support... but he's her sister's husband.  It's actually quietly funnier and slightly less drama-filled than the description implies.  What's that?  Oh it's an indie film that's not trying too hard.  Interesting.  3.8 stars
192) Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin. This documentary explores the life of a civil rights organizer at times marginalized because he was an openly gay black man in the 1960s.  Fascinating subject I wish I'd heard about before reading Marable's Malcolm X biography.  As for the film, scattered storytelling but some amazing footage and sound that allowed Rustin to tell his own story even though he'd been dead more than a decade before the film was made.  Very abrupt ending.  3.5 stars


Thursday Thirteen: How's Married Life?

I don't even see that many people that often.  But everyone I see loves to ask me "How's married life?"  -_- Y'all stop asking people that.  What could you possibly want to hear other than "Wonderful!"?  I think I have an idea...

1) "You can't be askin me no questions, yo." -The Mad Rapper
2) *whispers* "Have you ever seen the show 'Who the Bleep Did I Marry?' This is my life."
3) "It'd be better if he was a better person."
4) "It's cheaper to keep her."
5) "It's fine. How's bitter, single life?"*
6) "We're thinking of starting a cult."
7) "Every bit as excruciating as it was when we were dating."
8) "I've already applied to Wife Swap."
9) "It gets better... right? Please tell me it gets better."
10) "I want our long-distance relationship back. The longer the distance, the happier I'll be. Abu Dhabi, anyone?? Am I right??"
11) "If he knew as much about me as he knows about hip hop, we might make it."
12) "I started running to get away from him."
13) Fab Five Freddie told me everybody's fly/DJ's spinning I said my, my Flash is fast, Flash is cool/Francois sais pas, Flashe no deuxAnd you don't stop, sure shot/Go out to the parking lotAnd you get in your car and you drive real farAnd you drive all night and then you see a light/And it comes right down and lands on the ground/And out comes a man from Mars/And you try to run but he's got a gun/And he shoots you dead and he eats your headAnd then you're in the man from Mars/You go out at night, eatin' cars/You eat Cadillacs, Lincolns too/Mercuries and Subarus/And you don't stop, you keep on eatin' cars/Then, when there's no more cars/You go out at night and eat up bars where the people meetFace to face, dance cheek to cheekOne to one, man to manDance toe to toe/Don't move too slow, 'cause the man from MarsIs through with cars, he's eatin' barsYeah, wall to wall, door to door, hall to hall/He's gonna eat 'em allRapture, be pure/Take a tour, through the sewer/Don't strain your brain, paint a train/You'll be singin' in the rain/I said don't stop, do punk rock

*One of my friends said some of her married friends acts like you're automatically bitter if you're single. I said, "Well... you kind of are."  She looked at me like, "Wow. You, too. Already."  I looked at her like, "Really? That's me? Girl please! Who would say that to somebody??"  Don't worry.  She still loves me!  We're going to dinner tonight!


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 122

1) I try new recipes constantly.  99% of the things I cook are things I have never cooked before.  That is not in the least bit an exaggeration.  I like trying new things but it can be tiring when I want something simple to cook.  It's also problematic when I halve a recipe we really like.  I often halve recipes so if it doesn't turn out well or it turns out well but we don't love it, we're not stuck with tons of leftovers.  I need to fix myself.
2) I tried Kleenex's new Cool Touch and they're amazing!  The coolness is so weird!  And ultimately unnecessary.  Ah well.
3) I have a recurring dream that I'm falling from very high.  It terrifies me every time and sometimes starts me awake as I try to catch myself mid-air.  Recurring like weekly.  I hate it.  Apparently it means I'm stressed about some part of my life.  Um... yes.  I want an income.  Preferably from fabulous job.
4) I've been planning the Thanksgiving menu for weeks and I'm STOKED about it!!  I'm thisclose to setting it!  Our first married Thanksgiving.  Awwww!
5) I have no patience for basic fitness articles that tell you things like eat small portions and don't start drastic diets you can't maintain for a lifetime.  I know it's practical and there are still people who need to hear that but it wears me out to see them pop up with such regularity.
6) When I was in elementary school, I loved polysyllabic words.  If I'd known the word polysyllabic, I would've liked it, too.  In geography, my favorite word was archipelago.  In language arts, onomatopoeia!  (I liked to spell it, too.)  Boo!  My favorite dinosaur was triceratops.  Apparently some people don't think this is a dinosaur anymore???? *weeps*
7) Can we have an age limit on tarted up Halloween costumes?  I know there's this "movement" for women to be tasteful with their costumes this year (sigh... must we make everything a grand gesture?) but I feel like that applies quadruply if you're 35 and over.  30?  If we agree on 30, I missed my last year.  I'm okay with that.   I saw some costumes that made me gasp in their inappropriateness in the 40+ set and I just want to try to stop it.
8) I think about running all the time.  I got irritated Saturday and I wanted to go running.  I don't want to mess up my schedule and risk injury, though so I stayed in the house.  I'm thinking about changing one of my 30 Before 30 goals to run a 10k.  These goals are making me a bit nuts.
9) Did y'all watch Next Iron Chef?  Loved it!
10) The show "House Hunters International" has THE most stereotypical and borderline offensive music for every country.  It's ridiculous.
11) I just remembered I bumped into Pharrell when I was at Hampton for undergrad.  I was leaving a basketball game and walking backwards talking to my friends.  He saw me coming but I didn't see him.  One of my friends said, "Watch out!"  I turned around and we were less than a foot apart.  I gasped and apologized.  He was very polite but as we continued in our separate directions I remember thinking, "What in the world? Why wouldn't you go around??? My group was on a collision course with yours... Strange."
12) The Tribe Called Quest doc made me remember that.  The music was good of course but the film... meh.


Rowland... A Trip to the Country

I learned something about my husband when we were planning our trip to the 5k... and it disturbed me.  He wanted the 4+-hour trip to start from home the day of the trip.  I knew the idea of me waking up to leave at 3 a.m. and sleeping on and off in the car before my first 3-mile run was a bad one so I began looking for alternatives.  But that wasn't what disturbed me. 

I realized my dad's hometown was en route to the festival and I was geeked!  I hadn't been in a good 15 years so I asked my dad where we could stay.  When he said my uncle has a nice trailer that he uses when he's in town, I was ready to hit the road!  I told Rashan it was country... He didn't know I meant cotton field country.  
Rashan was shook knowing cotton fields were in walking distance.
I was incredibly confused.  I thought Rashan knew both of my parents have country roots.  Straight country.  Cotton fields, dirt roads.  All of that.  He was uncomfortable when we hit the first dirt road.  And his nervousness started rubbing off on me.  Not cool.  And that was what disturbed me.  So it's not that you just like the city, it's that you've never been to the country and it makes you uncomfortable.  And most of all, there was nothing I could say to make him relax.  Umm... 

You know what's funny, though?  He asked me if one field had tobacco in it.  Okay.  I know I spent part of my childhood down here and my grandfather used to grow it but what do I look like being able to recognize tobacco in the field???  So funny.  After we dropped our bags, we went to see my grandparents' old house but couldn't find it.  I called my dad and he helped us out.  Turns out it was right around the corner.  It looks nothing like I remember it.  I had been warned it wasn't in the condition it was when my grandparents were alive so I honestly expected much worse but it was still strange.

My grandparents' graves
Next we went to "visit" the grandparents.  I felt like the graveyard wanderer.  Before December 2010, I hadn't seen any of my three deceased grandparents' graves in 15 or more years.  But in the last year I've now seen all of them?  I saw my mom's dad's grave while making my film about him over the last year.  That first visit was really emotional because I had learned more about him in a week than I'd known in my entire life.

At this grave site, I didn't get emotional in part because I kind of remember them but also because I was on the phone with my dad.  You know what he said, though?  That he was honored that I was visiting his ancestors.  Awwww.  I also saw my great grandma's grave (grandma's mom).  She was a landowner and business owner (a store called Rag Mop).  I didn't even know she was buried there.  We also saw the grave of my oldest uncle.  He died the same year as my grandma and used to call me JamesEllen (which at the time I haaaaated) because he said I looked exactly like both of my parents.  I thought of him on my wedding day because of that.  My SIL met my mom and said, "You look just like your mom!"  I said, "Wait til you see my dad."  LOLOL!  My dad walked in and she goes, "Whoa."  LOLOLOL!  So hilarious!  I definitely look like my dad's entire side.  That's cool but sometimes I wish I had some features readily identifiable as belonging to my mom's side.  You can see I look like my mom when I'm with her but I don't really look anything like her side.

The giant headstones
Back to the country in North and South Carolina...  Have you guys heard of South of the Border?  If you've driven anywhere near Interstate 95, you probably have.  It's only 15 minutes from my grandparents' house so it weighs prominently in my memories of them.  So of course a trip down there necessitated a trip to South of the Border.  Dad gave me directions there, too.

I had talked to my favorite aunt, currently the family historian on that side, who told me we have another family graveyard right next to South of the Border... on yet another dirt road.  Rashan was so put out!!  At this point it was quite hilarious!  Can you please calm all the way down??? Please??? Merci!  At this family graveyard, there were two family headstones taller than me (granted I'm only 5'1 but still).  Can I get one of those when I kick the bucket??  I don't know nearly enough about this side of the family so clearly I have some work to do on this side.  My aunt has traced back to 1865 and has agreed to pass it on to me.  Whee!
Sombrero tower ride
After grave time, we headed over to South of the Border!  This Sombrero tower had super cheap rides... IDK why we didn't hop on.  I went through phases with SOTB.  As a kid, of course I loved it.  The stores with trinkets, the rides, the bright colors.  As a teenager, I was obviously too cool for it. I'll let you know, I've turned a corner into nostalgia.  It reminds me of my childhood and the store is filled with things I would buy to amuse myself and others if not for limited space and varying levels of taste.

One thing my grandmother INSISTED when we visited her was that her children take her grandchildren to get ice cream.  So you know I had to go get ice cream, right?  Rashan was like, "But... you have to race tomorrow. You can't get ice cream."  I listened to that about 7 minutes then I said, "Pleaaaaase can I get ice cream????"  Why did I do that?  Like he's my trainer and/or controls what I eat?  I have no idea.  LOL

The ice cream parlor

Coffee ice cream $1.95
Afterward, we went across the street and wandered around the "pantry".  It was full of Southern jellies, jams, candies and snacks.  Some I approved of, some I was dismayed by...  Want to know some I was dismayed by?  Beet eggs (WAY TO RUIN EGGS!!!!), chicken skin cracklins (I'm crazy for this since I like pork cracklins... it's just that I've never even heard of chicken skin cracklins), packaged boiled peanuts (wait... you BOILED THEM, then put them in a can/bag. no.) and packaged fatback (I love fatback but fatback in a bag????).  I didn't want but was okay with scuppernong grape jelly.  You know what I didn't know you could still buy?  Candy cigarettes.  I told Rashan he should buy some for his nieces and nephews and he declined.  Then almost a week later, I realized they would've been PERFECT for my Donatella Versace costume!  Hater!
South of the Border at night!
My friend pointed out that that picture would've been even better if I was a few inches higher.  That sombrero would've been on my head... HILARIOUS!!!!

We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant about 5 miles south and it was quite good.  Then we headed back to my uncle's place.  Y'all.  That happy face Rashan had?  Gone.  He couldn't get comfortable.  He couldn't sleep for more than 10 or 15 minutes.  Um... what?  He was making me nervous.  I had to go in a room and leave him to get some sleep.  Then I woke up at 2 and couldn't get back to sleep for hours.  I told him he needs to know we will be going to the country again when we go to Mississippi to see my mom's side.  He's not ready.  And I'm not ready for his nervousness.  -_-  Pray for us.


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 121

1) Terra Nova really does nothing for me.
2) I don't know how I carpal tunneled my hand (did you know that was a verb???) Saturday night but I woke up Sunday displeased.
3) I'm so excited some of you guys want to go running now!  We should do a blogger meet-up at a 5k!!!
4) We need more people at the Nerd Girl-hosted blogger book club.  Read The Hunger Games by December 5th and join the discussion!
5) I need interrobang (‽) to become a thing.  I love the word, I love the meaning, I love the punctuation mark! I also enjoy the snark ( Irony mark full.svg ) punctuation! The future of punctuation article amused me greatly!
6) I have unnecessarily short patience right now. Tis bad.
I think he's ADORABLE in this pic!
7) Rashan and I went to two parties this weekend.  Friday was a costume party.  I was Donatella Versace & Rashan was static cling.  He won most creative for an idea he found on the web and I assembled in five minutes.  LOL  Saturday was an Oktoberfest party so I made a cranberry apple pie that was a hit!
8) At the Saturday party, the hostess said we flirt like we just started dating.  :)  I thought that was the cutest thing ever!!  Who else would I want to flirt with other than my husband?? NOBODY!
9) OMG! We found out my brother-in-law is coming to Savannah for Thanksgiving which should also mean our youngest niece and nephew (ages 2 & 4) are coming.  I loooooove them!!  They're so cute!
10) I missed Hampton Homecoming yet again.  I've now missed it as an alum more times than I've been.  Ah well.  Plenty of time to right that imbalance.
11) I want to read more books.  Have you read anything good lately?


#9: Run a 5k

In July 2008, I found a 5k I wanted to run.  Now finding a 5k to run and running a 5k or even training to run a 5k as you know are not the same thing.  They don't even look like the same thing.  One's all talk, the other is ACTION!  For the last 3 Januarys, I've made a new year's resolution to run a 5k.  What took me so long?  I've never liked to run.  Ever.  Not even when chased.  On the playground, I preferred to just say, "Okay okay! You caught me!"  Seriously.  LOL  I never ran all the way through the mile in school.  I just didn't like to run.

But back in 2008, Losangelista & 1969 ran a marathon and a 5k respectively.  And I was like now wait a minute.  I DON'T WANT TO BE LEFT OUT!  And I felt like if Liz can run for 26 miles, I can run for 3, right?  I'm already in great shape so it shouldn't be too big of a leap!  Then I went to grad school.  And not only did I not run, I barely worked out.  Twas bad.  I knew when I created my 30 Before 30 list, running a 5k absolutely had to be on there.  It was one of my easiest additions.

Once again I found a race, I even hired a trainer (then fired her when I found out she wasn't a runner) and hired a new one who runs marathons to get me in shape to run.  Then 7 weeks ago, I started the Couch to 5k (C25K) running plan.  The general idea is that through interval training you build up to be able to run 30 minutes or a 5k.  I was hooked from the first week!  In week one, I felt very capable.  Week 2 was a bit harder, but still cool.  Each week I felt more and more proud of myself as I hit new milestones.  Then I registered for my first 5k.

I decided to run the Oyster Festival 5k at Ocean Isle Beach partly because my family used to vacation down there but mostly because you got free entry to the Oyster Festival!!!!  Do y'all know how much I love oysters?  I love them as much as Bubba loved shrimp!  I'll eat them however you'll serve them. Raw, steamed, broiled, fried, in stew, with toppings, with only a bit of lemon and some horseradish, with cocktail sauce, just gimme the oysters!!  So I trained and trained but before the race, I'd only ever run about 1.6 miles, which is about half of the 3.1 miles required for a 5k.  That made me a little nervous but I figured if I ran for the 22 minutes I was scheduled to run for Week 6, Day 3 of C25K, I could probably go a little further and if I needed to walk, I could do that, too.  But I also knew if I stopped running, it would be harder to start up again.  I went ahead and set a goal of 45 minutes.

Rashan and I spent the night in the city where my dad was born and raised (more on that later) and took this picture at nearby South of the Border so we'd only have to drive about an hour and 45 minutes as opposed to 5 hours before my race.  I had oatmeal, a banana and water on the drive down. We picked up my race packet which included a shirt, a wristband for the festival and chapstick and I was ready to go... but there was still over an hour until the race started. 

The ocean object of our ogling
I wasn't nervous, just READY!  It was kind of cold when we got there but I knew it would warm up even without me running since the high was 78 that day.  We ogled the ocean for a little bit then sat in the car, then watched the kids run the one-mile fun run, then I paced.  Can we get started yet???  Please???

The horn sounded at 8:30 and we were off!  Now I wish I could say I had photos of me running but the start and finish were at the same location and the official photographer was apparently only at the start and took sporadic pictures.  That means I have 0 pics of me racing until the end.  No matter.

I had carefully prepared my playlist so that I would be pumped and ready to go and keep going.  I didn't have a watch but I hoped there would be some sort of timing system.  Couldn't use my shuffle because it has no screen!  But I knew most of my songs were about three minutes so that was my way of pushing myself through.

I'm wearing lipstick because I couldn't find my lip gloss. 
I breezed through the first 10 minutes but then I see these two guys barreling toward me (one of whom I later found out finished the 10k in 32 minutes!!!).  Part of the course looped back for both the 5k and simultaneous 10k so I got to see allllll of the people who were passing me about to hit the one-mile mark.  That was a bit demoralizing.  I immediately wanted to know how many people were behind me but I decided to just wait until I hit the loop to peep that.  It turns out I was the slowest of the people continually running but there were a good 30 or so people behind me so I was cool with that.  I was just so excited to be out there I really didn't care at this point!  I was waving and smiling at all of the course-directing race officials.  I did a little cheer for myself at the one-mile mark and said, "All right! Let's keep going!"  I was sailing along smoothly here and feeling fine!  I kind of lost count of where I was on time but I knew I was around 26 or 27 minutes.  I did a big cheer when I hit 2 miles.  That's both further and longer than I'd ever run!  I felt like a rockstar!!! 

I also realized that while some songs are fun and work for other workouts, they are not so much for me when running.  One of those songs is Ciara's "Bang It Up."  Love it for other workouts.  Blech for my run.  Outkast's "Bombs Over Baghdad" and "Pump It" by Black Eyed Peas?  Got me dancing on the course.  That's right!  I was running and dancing!  Lol.  I was having a ball!  And it helped that there were people standing on the decks of their beach houses cheering us on!  Somewhere after mile two the inside of my ankle started hurting and I couldn't shake it out.  Usually I can shake it, mid-stride and fix it but that wasn't working.  Then the outside started acting up but I really didn't want to stop.  Once I hit two miles I figured I might as well run the whole thing in. 

Why do running & walking look the same???
At about this time I got to the water station where they did a great job of cheering me along!  It is there that I discovered I need to practice running and drinking because I almost choked myself.  Wait.  I choked myself but managed to get it under control.  That was scary, but then I went back to being my excited, self-motivating self.  I knew I was getting close but I couldn't tell how close.  A lady speedwalking said, "Almost there" as she passed me and I replied, "THANK GOD!!!"  LOL  Shortly after I passed the three-mile marker, gasped and cheered and looked ahead and wondered why in the WORLD was .1 miles so long???  I saw Rashan and smiled and waved, then looked at the back of the encouraging speedwalker and decided she wasn't gonna speedwalk and beat me across the finish line when I ran the whole thing.  I kicked it into high gear and crossed at 44:12.  Woohoooo!!   I beat my goal!!!  I was PUMPED!!  And shocked!  I kept saying, "I did it! I did it!"  I guess it's a compliment that Rashan wasn't surprised that I ran the whole thing under my goal but I wanted him to be amazed with me!

Look! A medal!
My brother via text told me he was so proud he's gonna tell everybody his sister runs marathons.  LOL.  That is absolutely not my goal at this point in my life.  I want to run my next 5k either at Thanksgiving in Savannah or a "Mistletoe" run locally in under 40 minutes.  I'll do a few more 5ks, then do the Bridge to 10k, then run a few 10ks and see how I feel.  I do need to stretch better after races and cool down.  But overall, the race was very exciting!

Seafood Bog
The festival?  A complete fail.  It's an OYSTER festival, right?  So why did the majority of the vendors serve 0 oysters?  It was typical fair food!  There were tons of beach-specific vendors which also included things I don't care anything about but the food was the reason we traveled that far for a 5k.  We wandered over to the festival around 10 and many people were just setting up.  We did a (disappointing lap) and saw $20 plates of fried oysters or steamed oysters you have to shuck yourself.  I don't know how to shuck and do you know how many oysters I can get for $20 elsewhere?  I just couldn't bring myself to do that. 
There were some oyster gumbos and stews but the non-oyster food far outweighed it.  AND NO RAW OYSTERS!!!!!!  This murdered my poor little heart.  I got a seafood bog that had shrimp, fish & oysters with a tomato, onion & celery seafood broth and rice.  It was quite good but I was stuck on the lack of oysters.  We left after less than an hour and I fell into a deep sleep in the car.  Then the next day I slept for 12 hours!!  Phew!  I RAN MY FIRST 5K!!!!!!!!!!


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 120

1) I like Rashan's face scruffy.
2) Mild cheddar cheese is a worthless product.
3) You know what our next place MUST have? STORAGE SPACE!! It's extra ridiculous up in here.  Sometimes that means a little creativity but right now it's about to mean WHERE DO I PUT ALL THIS STUFF??? Rearranging meant our hiding spots were eliminated in the front room.
4) I'm ADDICTED to the Couch to 5k Facebook Page!! Addicted!!  I use it to encourage me to go run when I don't feel like it and I encourage others when they need it.  I love it!!!
5) I get so excited when people ask me for recipe, cooking or baking advice! :)
6) I MIGHT break out the Christmas music this week.  LOL!  I know it's waaaaay too early for almost everyone I've ever known but when the temps stop being in the 80s and I know it's October, even MID-OCTOBER??? I get that itch!!!
7) I don't like it when people ask me why I'm awake (Because I am.) or tell other people to go to bed.  If this is an odd hour to you, I'm may or may not be happy to be up.  If you're telling me to go to bed... you know you're up, too, right? Oh okay.
8) It makes me giggle when people ask me where my husband is.  I often forget I have one of those until they ask!
9) Have any of you had mincemeat pie before?  It sounds really gross to me.  I'm not saying I wouldn't try it but I'm kinda scared.
10) I ran my 5k & I can't wait to tell you all about it!  Well... I can.  And you can, too!  Later in the week, my friends!


Movies 2011, Weeks 38-40

September 25- October 1, 2011
168) Blade Runner. Harrison Ford stars in this sci-fi thriller about human-like "replicants" he's sent to track down and destroy.  But sometimes his feelings get in the way.  Pretty awesome at times but the narration?  Oh the narration.  Absolutely terrible.  Definitely a thriller.  3.5 stars
169) The Deer Hunter. A film about a group of friends (including Robert DeNiro & Christopher Walken) excited to go to war until they get to Vietnam and are disillusioned by what they see.  I did not get or enjoy the hour-long build-up to war.  The actual war part was short but horrific.  The aftermath included some amazing moments but also some plodding ones.  Some absolutely useless characters in this one.  I can see why people would love/respect this movie.  It was pretty good in isolated spots but I wouldn't want to watch it again.  2.9 stars
170) Bill Cunningham New York. Documentary about the NYTimes photographer behind the street style column.  He's an awesome guy and now a total superstar to me.  I'll have to join the club on that one.  If you like fashion at all, you should like this film.  Riveting.  4.4 stars
171) Gone with the Wind.  I definitely see why this is a classic despite the steppin and fetchin negroes.  Of course there was a romanticized version of the Civil War but what do you expect about something written by a Georgian?  This movie is awesome!  Such a great story!  Also, Clark Gable??? WOW!!  Also the ending?? Yep!  4.8 stars

October 2-8, 2011
172) AClockworkOrange. Futuristic StanleyKubrick film about a violent psycho and his band of psycho friends.  I really hated watching this creepy, disturbing film.  It sticks with you, it's unique, which of course for many is a great part of the appeal but that is part of what makes it so disturbing.  1.4 stars
173) Ralph Nader: An Unreasonable Man. A documentary about the public interest man and presidential candidate.  It made Nader a sympathetic character while still bringing forth some of the chief criticisms against him.  But this film was full of far too much rhetoric and too many talking heads.  2.4 stars
174) Just Married. Ashton Kutcher & Brittany Murphy (RIP) star in this film about a couple who get married and then all heck breaks loose in their relationship, specifically on the honeymoon.  Clichéd with some bad acting but not the worst movie I've ever seen.  Some pretty unforgivable musical choices, though.  2.9 stars
175) Ben-Hur. Charlton Heston stars in the epic film set in the time of Jesus about a Jewish prince who vows revenge on a Roman friend who betrayed him.  Pretty awesome throughout most of the movie.  The end was a bit sappy but overall, an enjoyable (if obviously incredibly long) film.  3.7 stars
176) Taxi Driver. Robert DeNiro plays a deranged taxi driver who decides he must rid New York of scum on his mission to save a 12-year-old hooker (Jodi Foster).  I can't understand why Foster was nominated for an Oscar.  Because her parents let her play a child prostitute?  She was barely in the film.  Great cinematography.  3.3 stars
177) Prohibition. Five and a half hour Ken Burns documentary about making alcohol illegal in the United States.  As you see, extremely long.  It kind of made me question whether there was still a demand for these sorts of serial movies and if so, why and for how long?  Of course there was amazing archival and some great storytelling but the music was a bit surprisingly cliché.  I understand choosing music your audience can attach to the time but this seemed to go beyond that.  The interviews looked like they were shot without the assistance of current camera equipment-- grainy.  3.5 stars
178) Scream 4. Wes Craven directs yet another Scream movie.  I honestly went into this wondering why Rashan was getting this.  But it was pretty awesome!  Full of surprising twists and turns.  4.2 stars
179) Spartacus. Kirk Douglas stars as the titular character in this epic film from 1960 about the slave who led a revolt against the Romans.  Directed by StanleyKubric, I liked this FAR more than his other film I saw this week.  Slow at times but much of it was riveting.  3.8 stars

October 9-15, 2011
180) The Station Agent. Indie film about a dwarf who relocates to the country intent on becoming a hermit when his only friend dies.  His plans are interrupted by his neighbors.  Amusing, leisurely paced.  I enjoyed it.  3.8 stars
181) Midnight. Claudette Colbert stars as a poor girl in Paris who poses as a Hungarian baroness.  Cute, old school rom com.  Very fun and somewhat unpredictable.  3.8 stars


Sunny Days

As Rashan tried to sleep after his alarm today, I said, "Good morning, sunshine!"  Then I spoke the words to "You Are My Sunshine," internally laughed at the high fructose in the air and it almost turned into this.  Then I thought about how mad I would be if he woke me up rapping.  Maybe mad is an understatement.  No.  Mad is an understatement!!  I can barely tolerate his rapping fully awake and full of delicious food. 

Speaking of delicious food, I had some salsa last night at my first ever pumpkin carving that was AMAZING!!!  I probably ate 2 cups of it.  Thou shalt not put a bowl of delicious salsa in front of me if thou shall like to have any. 
The first pumpkin I ever carved! And free-handing it!
I also sampled pumpkin ales for the first time.  Delicious!  Most pumpkin-y and delicious awards go to Weyerbacher and Big Boss Harvest Time.  And now that I know Big Boss is brewed in Raleigh?  I feel the need to visit them ASAP!  My sister would love that since it would mean me coming to hang with her. :)