Thursday, August 07, 2014

Why I'm reading romance novels

I spent a long time thinking about how to motivate introverts yesterday while I was running.  I have a lot to say about that topic, but I don't have a lot of time to write out all my thoughts, so I'll save that one for another day.

It is a torrential downpour right now in the best way possible, and I just want to kick my shoes off and go outside and run around in it.  One of my favorite memories from college happened during a torrential rainstorm at night - my roommates and I went out and splashed in our shorts and tanks, and were instantly soaked to the bone.  What a lovely, freeing feeling to be completely soaked and running and dancing.  I'm rarely dressed appropriately at this point in my life for a rain frolic, but I should make it a life goal to be ready to take advantage of crazy rain.

So I've been reading quite a few romance novels lately, and while I haven't been quick to publicize that around, I have been thinking about how they are sort of a misjudged genre.  I read widely, and love literary fiction, horror, offbeat books, and popular nonfiction, but generally avoid mysteries, family dramas, and gratuitous death.  So romance novels usually have insanely ridiculous covers that give them away immediately, are usually cheap and small paperbacks, and have kind of a reputation for who reads them.  I won't insult anyone by describing that reputation, but I think we all have a picture in our heads of who reads romance novels, and it isn't pretty.

I'm not going to be the first or most eloquent person to say that the picture in our heads is wrong, that's been done all over the internet for years, but I am going to sit here and say that sometimes it's really nice to read about two people falling in love, where their love is the focus of the story.  I love being in love, I loved falling in love, and it's nice to be reminded of how fun that is.  I like to be reminded to treasure what I have with Jim.  And I like to read books that don't take themselves so seriously!

Social commentary can take many different forms, and I think that the way we collectively judge the romance novel might be indicative of a larger problem - that we don't, as a culture, value love enough.  The choice of who to spend your life with might be one of the most important choices ever, and the right partner can get you through just about any problem life throws at you.  The wrong partner might be the biggest problem life can throw at you.  And realizing that the super-handsome guy that you've been bickering with for months in 1814 is actually the love of your life might be a good life lesson.  Or maybe just a lot of fun to read.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Introverted Introspection

I recently read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  It was awesome.  This isn't going to be a book review, though - I have a hard time writing those.  Which may be a sign that I should practice, or a sign that I should just not worry about it.  There are plenty of people happy to write book reviews out there, and who read much faster and more prodigiously than I.

I grew up in a pretty quiet household.  I may have been the noisy one.  However, it was also pretty normal for me to spend many hours in my room reading and studying, or writing and listening to music, or playing by myself.  I seem to remember being alone a lot, by choice, yet rarely being lonely.  Listening to Quiet made me realize how lucky I am that my family is all introverted - it surprised me how many parents of kids like me felt like there was something wrong with their kids.  I always felt like my reading habits were fully supported (and shared!) by my parents, my studiousness was a good thing, my short and stable friends list meant that my parents were friends with my friends parents.  I could not believe that there are parents out there - more than one, there were several "case studies" - who would bring their studious and calm children to the doctor to find out what is wrong with them.  I heard a mother recently describe her smart adult daughter (double majoring!!) with dismay, she can't believe her own child is a nerd.  I wanted to defend this girl I don't know, who loves math and reading and is curious about the world around her.  But I wasn't interested in speaking up...demonstrating my introversion yet again.  Aha.  At any rate, the ways in which I have been judged had remained largely invisible to me until I read Quiet, which is a mercy.  I was never the cool kid, but it never seemed all that cool to me to be the cool kids anyhow - too much work - so lucky me that I was sheltered from the extroversion.  Now, apparently, I am so good at pretending to be extroverted that I have half my friends and acquaintances fooled.  But then again, anyone who has waited months for me to reply to an email or return a phone call might already know the truth....

Monday, August 04, 2014

Eleven Years in Review

I just skimmed through my old blog posts...didn't take long, there really isn't much here.  I was struck by how loose and conversational my style used to be.  I just really wrote right out of my head, like I was talking to a friend on the phone, and that was that.  Goofy.  Confessional.  Very different from the way I tend to write now, with an ear for who might be listening, what people might think of me, how I might be judged both on and offline for what I wrote on my blog.

I've come a long way from those early days, now that I'm entrenched in a career (it was hard not knowing what I wanted to do or where I wanted to work!), a family (so funny to think of how hard it was to make friends - now I barely have time to see the ones I have!), a marriage (actually my relationship with Jim is still awesome and goofy, and he's still the only person I really can't get enough time with).

When I sit down to write, I think about what I should write about.  I think in terms of little articles.  Hook, middle, conclusion.  Topics.  Relevancy.  Controversial topics.  When I read what I used to write, it's not at all like that.  It's a smattering of random thoughts.  Like I had no audience, which I didn't, which I don't.  It doesn't make me sad at all that only a handful of people might still have this link, might be actually seeing this.  Actually, it's freeing.  I have that lovely Wordpress blog, but my photo is on it.  The blog itself has more photos on it, it's lovely.  It's bright, clean, friendly.  Only a handful of people know that one too, but for some reason I feel safer and cozier right here.

Pretty much five days into every blogging attempt I've ever made (and I keep making them...inexplicably...) I start to worry.  Why am I doing this?  Isn't my print journal, the one that's hidden and no one ever looks at, enough for me?  Who would ever want to read what's in my head?  Why would I ever put my thoughts on random stuff into such a permanent medium, where just anyone can run across it and read it?  Why would I put myself out for judgement when I have no interest in being judged?  I'm still not sure what the Call of the Blog is, but it is a bug that bites me periodically.  Right up there with the Call of the Garden and the Urge to make Cupcakes.

On the other hand, the blogs I like to run across and read for awhile are the ones that are personal, random, and funny (I'm not making any claims to be funny here, but sometimes I am a little funny in person).  The blogs that are made the way they tell you to blog - with focus, branding, posts every single day, links to stuff, bells and whistles, and the Top 7 Things You Never Knew About X just don't hold my attention for very long.  I see those posts making viral rounds on Facebook, and I'm sure their authors make money from all that traffic, but it's not as interesting to me personally as getting to know someone's voice and life through their unfiltered blog.  So perhaps it's reading lovely daily bits from bloggers like the Yarn Harlot that inspires me to rattle away on my keyboard periodically, or perhaps it's just a touch of narcissism, or delusion, or the urge to live forever.  Anyhow, here I am, temporarily, semi-anonymously (although not so anonymous as I probably ought to be), in this lovely pink space (I've left it untouched for about 10 years, and intend to leave it exactly like this - keeping it old school!!!), rattling off inanities.  Just like I do in real life.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Why I Run

While I'm running, I often think about why I'm doing it.  Not in a "Good grief, why am I putting myself through this," sort of way, but in a "Why I'm so glad to be doing this right now," sort of way.  Sometimes I compose #whyirun tweets in my head which go untweeted, because when I get home I just want to hydrate and shower as quickly as possible so I can hang out with my family.  Other times I just absorb positive things and put them right back into my run. 

Today, as I was running behind the bowling alley, I was treated to some applause as a live version of "Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty was played over the speakers out back.  It was nice to have some cheering, and I got a few lines of the song stuck in my head for a bit, most notably "I got just one life."  I was meditating on that one line for a mile or two, and thinking that yes, I have just this one life.  What do I want from it?  With this one life I want to be as limber and able to keep up as possible.  Heck, not just able to keep up, but setting my own pace.  I want to wear my fun clothes, I want to feel good about the skin I'm in, I want to run with my family and climb mountains and take on the world.  Every step that I run gets me closer to that ideal.  Every step I run is me giving my body the strength to do what I want to do.  Every step I run is me shaping and sculpting the body I was born with into the body that can do everything I dream up.  Why wouldn't I run?

Saturday, August 02, 2014

August Goals

I have set two goals for myself this month: Run 10 miles, and lose 10 pounds.  Both of these goals are attainable, both are a challenge, and both are positive health improvements that I really want for myself. 

Today, I ran two miles.  It felt great.  Tomorrow will be a challenge - I'm adding a mile and a half to my previous longest run, and will be running nearly 7 miles.  I am excited about the challenge, and excited about my route - down to Bug Light, and back along the prettiest part of Broadway before getting back onto the Greenbelt. 

I've been counting calories for about 2 weeks.  It's not my favorite way to go through the day, but it does seem to be about the only way I've lost weight in the last few years.  Effective, and a good self-check for sure!  I'd love to be able to go all French-women and just be more aware of my eating habits, but really, writing it down and calculating calorie counts seems to be the technique that works best for me. 

In order for me to reach my goals, I will have to work on them every day.  Every. Single. Day.  Go me!!