Reflections Of A Lackluster Life

The Random Thoughts Of A Captive Midwesterner

War October 30, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 7:20 pm
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As of Monday… let the games begin!

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Nano October 29, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 6:33 pm
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Can you feel that? “Feel what?” you ask.  The pressure of course!  Can’t you feel the immense pressure of Nanowrimo bearing down on us?  I know I can!  With only two days remaining to pull together my outline, plug up the holes in my plot and quite possibly rename the main character I am feeling a little overwhelmed.

Part of my problem is that the story I have really is good.  No really, I swear it is!  Just like everyone’s story.  I really do believe that all writers have great stories and wonderful ideas, but most of them get lost in translation.  Who among us hasn’t read a book and said “Golly!  That was a great idea, and it could have been a great story if this author had any grasp on the English language and/or the ability to write dialog.”  I know I have.  Now I find myself in the position of REALLY not wanting to be THAT author.

When I imagine holding the first draft of my epic novel in my hands, I envision myself gazing upon it adoringly.  I want to feel an overwhelming sense of joy, pride and accomplishment, but I fear that all I will feel is shame and the urge to vomit.

For now, I must push my fears to the back part of my mind.  Tonight I will go home and (after tooling around the addictive Nanowrimo forums for a while) do some serious work on my plot!  All I need is a box of Zen tea, a clean table and my Pandora Enya channel.

 

Run October 27, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 1:59 pm
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Last night I sat down with a fresh 2011 calendar and a pen.  I took some time and plotted out the next 6 months of my life.  I now know every mile I need to run between now and April 30th to prepare myself mind and body for the Nashville Country Music Marathon.  In addition to my running, I will also be joining a gym that is within walking distance of my house so that I can add weight training to my schedule at least 3 times a week as well as taking a spin class on my cross training day (also, I’m thinking that with all the work and tight muscles, yoga wouldn’t be a bad idea).

The plan I'm following, but I added 4 weeks to the beginning of it!

 

I know it looks pretty rough, but I am just beyond excited!  I can’t can’t to see how my body will adapt to the schedule and I’m psyched to see my progress!  I like to push myself and this is by far the most strenuous attempt thus far.  I’m sure that there will be a fair share of bitching going on here over the next 6 months, but I really hope that at the end of all that there is a post on my stellar performance at the marathon!

 

4 Stories: Childhood Games October 26, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 7:24 pm
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Today I was introduced to the blog Freckled Nest by Peter who was originally referred there by Megan.  Phew… now that I got all of the linking out of the way, on to the meat and potatoes!  Freckled Nest has an interesting concept called 4 Stories, where a group of 4 stories are written on a topic and readers are encouraged to write about the same topics.  The current topic?  Childhood games!

Though my thoughts automatically go straight to my power ranger days, Peter already covered that.  He also got to tell the world about our adventures in magic carpet rides (sadly without the picture I have of him in a Princess Jasmine costume).  So where does that leave me?  Delving deeper into the mind of my inner child to mine for nuggets of pure golden memories!  So without further delay, I give you my 4 Childhood Games!

1. Street Fighter

As a child, imagination was my favorite thing!  So it is no wonder that most of my childhood games were elaborately thought out imagination games taking place in fantasy worlds with amazing locations and fascinating creatures.  Some games were pulled directly from my imagination, but I did draw inspiration from pre-existing stories on an “as needed” basis.

One such game was simply called “Street Fighter”.  Though we did draw primarily from the idea of the video game, I believe we were also influenced heavily by The Three Ninjas.  If you can picture a bunch of kids (my sister, my cousins and I) running around outside in spandex tights and leotards kicking at the “monsters” that magically appeared from behind bushes in our back yard all the while screaming things like “POWER KICK!” and “HIY-YAH!” then you pretty much had the entire point of the game.  There wasn’t a whole lot of plot line to these particular stories, but the costumes were spectacular.  I was always Chung Lee (pictured).  So of course I put on my earmuffs and tied Christmas wrapping ribbon around both sides.

Sometimes we would really feel frisky and would force the youngest of our group, my cousin Adam, to be a bad ninja.  We would then proceed to chase him around the yard whilst he repeatedly screamed how much he didn’t want to be the bad guy!  Come to think of it, Adam being forced to be the “bad guy” was a theme in a lot of our games.  Poor kid.

Her "earmuffs" rocked my socks!

2. Master Of Hypnosis

I could legitimately fill this entire blog post with stories about  Peter and I, undoubtedly we were often on the same page when it came to writing our childhood adventures, but we did often argue about who should be holding the pen.  While that did repeatedly cause some very heated battles, it usually worked out amazingly when we did decide to work together for the good of the story.  Sometimes though, we let our imaginations get WAY out of hand.  Example:  The period in our lives when we were convinced that we were in fact masters in the art of hypnosis.

When the idea of hypnotizing each other first came into our minds, we decided it was best if we kept this plan to ourselves.  The reasons were simple.  First, we were undoubtedly on our way to having secret powers that would allow us to get anything we wanted!  Our parents would be putty in our hands, our teachers would be helpless against our magnetism and shower us with praise and straight A’s, our siblings would always do exactly what we commanded!  Homework, doing the dishes, cleaning our rooms?  These would soon be things of the past!  Why would we ever reveal our secret methods?  Too dangerous!  The second reason?  Our parents would kill us if they knew what we had planned!  They would certainly never want us to learn such a useful trick.

So the idea of going to the library and checking out a book on hypnosis was out of the picture.  The only logical option?  Well the most amazing invention of our time!  We would do our research in a magical place where the answers to all of the worlds secrets existed… the internet!  As we stared anxiously at the AOL dial up process, we giggled in anticipation.  Soon enough, we  stumbled upon a site with a flashy sparkly background and plain black text (I assure you it was very official and professional looking, like a professor in astrophysics had made this web page).

We printed out the entire 30 some odd page document secretly (it was a capital offense in our home for a child to use expensive ink or printer paper without permission).  With our printed instruction booklet hot off the presses, Peter stealthily shoved it up his shirt and we made our way secretly to the basement to practice our new skills.  We spend hours taking turns putting each other into deep states of hypnosis.  Once we were certain that we had mastered this ability, it was on to hypnotizing other people!

As you can imagine, our results were not stellar.  We couldn’t even convince my mom to let Peter spend the night that night (probably because Ginny asked mom in the wrong manner or at the wrong time!).  It was then that we gave up on the silly notion of hypnosis and moved on to planning more effective means of influencing our parents, but that is a story that will likely never be told!

3. Runaway

One of my most favorite games to play as a child was Runaway.  Ok, we didn’t actually call it “runaway” we just said things like “lets pretend that we ran away from home and we all live together in a fort in the forest” or “lets pretend that we all ran away and now we live in this camper in the middle of the forest”, you get the idea (one not so successful attempt at this game started with someone saying “hey, let’s pretend that we all ran away and live in this igloo we will build in the middle of Antarctica”)

This game had so many variations it is honestly hard to keep track of them all, but I think the most played version took place in the vast forest behind my grandmas house (we now know that this “vast” forest is roughly the size of half of a football field and our parents could hear every word we were saying).  There was a giant pile of sticks and logs that resembled a huge beaver dam in the middle of the woods that we would always pretend was our home.

For some reason Peter was usually absent from this version of the game.  So my cousin Josh and I were in charge, we were the oldest and therefor knew more about survival than Ginny and Adam did.  We would send them off to do menial tasks like collect firewood and search out food for the coming Winter.  Meanwhile Josh and I would sit back at camp and draw lines in the dirt to represent our home.  Everyone had a designated room and I usually set up some furniture out of twigs (and somehow no one was surprised when I chose to be an Interior Designer when I grew up.)

(A highlight of this particular version of the game came one day when Ginny was gathering food because in our game we were all starving to death, and we actually got her to eat a grub!)

Probably my second favorite version of this game was only able to be played for 1 glorious Summer.  Peter was fortunate enough to have the elementary school in his backyard so we would often wander back there to play.  One Summer, the baseball diamonds were being moved to a different location and in the area in which the old baseball diamonds once existed popped up ginormous man made sand dunes.  Of course these became deserted islands that we had landed on when our parents died in a plane crash.  And because there were many “islands” each kid could claim one!  A lot of “you get off my island” went on that Summer!

4.Hide And Go Seek In The Dark

Out of all of the games I remember from my childhood, not a single one can boast a fonder memory nor a longer running history than “hide and go seek in the dark” (and yes, that is exactly what we called it).  This game was played entirely indoors in my large bedroom.  Every time the grownups got together and it was too dark to play outside, we would head upstairs to play. The rules of the game were simple, the person who was “it” had to find the people hiding, but of course, we made the game a bit more interesting.

The first step in the game was to divide up the ammunition.  You heard me right, we played hide and go seek in the dark with projectile weapons.  I had a toy box full of stuffed animals and soft toys which were divided up among the “hiders”.  Whomever was “it” would go wait down the small stairway that lead to my bedroom behind the closed door.  As they waited, the “hiders” hid.  Because the room was large, there were a TON of places to hide.  We hid under beds, behind dressers, on top of dressers, in the “cubby” area, in the closet and some of the braver souls just stood silently in a corner or shimmied their way up the door frame so that the “it” would walk right underneath them (though this was risky if you were a boy and the person walking below you started swinging around above his head to check for people).

Once we were all in position, that’s when things got interesting.  One person would call “ok! We’re ready!  Come in!” and then the “it” would enter the room as we all held our breath.  Because our eyes were adjusted to the dark, we had the advantage, and this is where the toys came in.  The “it” was subjected to random flying objects hitting them out of the blue.  Giving away your position was always a risk of throwing the toys, but the reward of hitting someone in the face with a stuffed teddy bear was so worth it.  The toys missiles would stop the moment the “it” found someone and the lights were turned on.

There were of course a few problems with using the toys, for instance my cousin Josh would always chew on the stuffed animals he had in his arsenal while he was hiding.  So we were all hit with spitty slobbery toys on occasion and that was gross.   But the worse mishap took place when someone grabbed a can of beans out of the toy box (for playing Kitchen no doubt) and beamed Peter in the face with it within the first few seconds of his turn being “it”.  He cried and caused a ruckus that effectively ended that lead the grownups to cancel that game for the entire night.  To this day, the identity of the can thrower is unknown.

 

Time October 20, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 4:49 pm

Boy, it has been a while huh?  I didn’t mean for it to be so long, life just got crazy.  Have you ever noticed that it has a tenancy to do that?  After the Half Marathon, Kiel started running with me.  I love that he is doing that, but he works so late at night that the only time we can run is in the morning.  So we have been going to bed early and getting up early, thus sucking my morning time all up.  In the evenings, I’ve been story boarding for Nanowrimo.  So basically, I have not time.

I looked at the calendar today and realized with a shock that we have already passed the halfway point of October.  It is just crazy to think another year has just about passed me by.  It seems like the last three years have just been one big blur.

I wish I had time to write a real post, but alas, as usual I am busy.  I hope to keep this updated a little more, but with Nanowrimo coming up next month, I wouldn’t hold my breath!

 

Start September 14, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 9:31 pm
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I did it!  I finished the race.  I finished it pretty slowly, but I finished it none the less.  It was hard and it was painful, but it was also very worth it!

On Saturday night I ate pasta for an early dinner and went to bed as soon as I could.  Waking up at 3:30am was not as bad as I thought it would be, I don’t know if that’s because I was so excited or because of the carbs in my system making me all energetic.  Either way, I bounced around the house getting ready and making coffee for Kiel (I let him sleep until 4:30).  I chugged as much water as my system could hold and ate my oatmeal.

The ride there was a little surreal, there was no one on the road at that hour on a Sunday morning on the Chicago south side.  Soon though, we were in a crowd of cars with bumper stickers that said things like 26.2 and 13.1… I knew I had found my peeps.

We parked in a free lot that my boss told me about and set off to walk the mile or so to the start line.  I was so cold, I was shivering!  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m really glad it was cold because running in the heat BLOWS… but next time I’ll bring a jacket!  The fact that all of those liquids I drank were catching up to me didn’t help my situation much either.

After a little moseying around the welcome area, I set about doing my warm up and stretches.  I was really worried about my calves as they had been really hurting on my runs, I didn’t want them to cost me the finish line so I stretched them  A LOT!  About 15 mins before the race I took my GU Energy Gel and drank a little water.  Then I kissed Kiel goodbye and went to stand in a line of 20,500 people to start the race.

To say it was overwhelming would be an understatement.  I really thought I had an understanding of how the race would be, but I didn’t.  There were just people EVERYWHERE!  It’s hard to describe really, but there was an energy to the crowd, and almost tangible buzz.  We were all there to do our best and we couldn’t wait to start doing it.

Before I knew it I was crossing that starting line.  I absorbed the atmosphere for a little while, the people running in groups chatting, the people on the side of the track cheering, the music pumping from speakers near the starting line, but soon I just wanted to be in my zone so I popped my headphones in and turned up the tunes.

Then, without any warning I was in pain.  A great deal of pain.  It felt like someone had stabbed me in the side with a butchers knife that had been sitting on a bed of hot coals.  I immediately began to curse the oatmeal.  Luckily for me (or kinda not) this had happened before in my training so I knew without a doubt two things.  First, the pain was going to get worse… a lot worse.  And second, if I ran hard enough and long enough, it WOULD go away.  So I did, I ran hard and fast and around mile 3 (30 mins later) it magically went away.

After the oatmeal pain dissipated, the race was pretty straight forward.  Just run and have fun.  And that’s how it went, until about mile 10.  That’s when my legs started to go on strike.  In my training program, 10 miles was the furthest I had gotten.  According to the guy who wrote the program, enthusiasm on race day should allow you to go the extra 3 miles.  I suppose he was right, as I DID finish the race, but it wasn’t exactly the easiest thing I have ever done.

By the time I made it to the finish line, “one more step” was my mantra.  I repeated it over and over and over to myself, and then, it was done.  I crossed that one little line and that was it.  I walked through the post race area in a daze.   I was handed a medal and a bottle of water and a banana.  I loved them all.

Soon enough, I found Kiel and we started the walk back to the car.  In retrospect, parking a mile away was a really stupid idea.  It took us an abnormal amount of time to get there as I was barely limping along with Kiel supporting me.  When we finally got to the car though, sitting did not bring the relief I thought it would, it was just a different kind of pain.

So we went in search of the only thing I knew would help me… pizza and beer.  And let me tell you, it really did help!  I made it to around halftime in the Lions vs. Bears game and I was passed out on the sofa.

All in all, it was a good experience.  I met my goal.  More importantly, I have opened the door for other goals, but more on that soon.  I will leave you with some pictures of the event!

 

Tomorrow September 11, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 8:21 pm
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12 weeks of training.  12 weeks of pain and endurance.  12 weeks of highs and lows.  12 weeks.  And it all comes down to tomorrow.

That’s right folks, tomorrow I will be strapping on those running shoes and running my first half marathon (13.1 miles).  To be honest with you, I’m a little worried about this.  My last run on Monday was 10 miles, and it was a BAD run.  I was in pain and I was slow, but I pushed through it.  I have no problem pushing through things and I don’t doubt my ability to run a full 13.1 miles, it’s my ability to run it fast enough that scares me.

The race tomorrow is a unique one, the city of Chicago shuts down part of Lake Shore Drive for the runners.  In one way it’s really awesome to be able to run somewhere like that, but the downside is that they can only keep it closed for so long and so the runners have to keep a certain pace.  On a normal day, I run a 10min mile (I know it’s pretty slow but I did just start running 12 weeks ago) and the required pace is a 13min mile, so I should have no problem, but it still worries me a little bit.  What if I get a cramp?  What if I need to take time to stretch?  What if I have to go to the bathroom?  All of these things could mean a lot if I’m barely in the 13 mile to begin with!

I refuse to dwell on that though.  More dominant than the fear is the excitement!  I am really looking forward to this.  I have been mostly sitting around and eating bad food and drinking beer for the past too many years.  I always dreamed of doing this.  I’ve really and truly worked hard for this every day for 12 weeks and I am looking forward to testing myself.

So tonight it’s a dinner of pasta followed by a glass or two of sleepytime tea.  I will wake up well rested, energized and ready to take on the world one step at a time!  I’ll be sure to update with pictures and a story, no matter if I make it to the finish line or not.