Friday, September 19, 2014

30 Years of Clair Huxtable

The Cosby Show premiered on September 20, 1984 and aired for 8 seasons. It was the #1 show in the country for 5 straight seasons and remains one of my personal favorites to this day. (I can often be found laughing hysterically while watching reruns and DVRing episodes to show to Adam.) While I am an unabashed Bill Cosby fan, it was Phylicia Rashad's Clair Huxtable who captured my heart.

She taught me about feminism before I knew it had a name. She was a successful lawyer, a partner at her firm. She was always the smartest woman in the room. (Fun fact: Phylicia Rashad spoke fluent Spanish, so they gave that trait to her character.) She was elegant and cultured, but wasn't afraid to dig in the dirt or play dress-up with her kids. She was kind and understanding, but she was never hesitant to speak up for herself. Her marriage with Cliff was based on a rock-solid foundation of trust, respect, and admiration. She's exactly the kind of mother I aspire to be someday.

In honor of The Cosby Show's 30th birthday, let's take a look at some of Clair's greatest hits.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lately I'm Loving: Rainbow Rowell

It all started a few months ago when I first heard about Eleanor and Park. Pretty soon, it was popping up everywhere I looked, so I figured I should give it a read. I tore through it in a day and promptly reserved every other book written by the author, Rainbow Rowell, at the library. I've now read them all and can say I am a huge fan. Rowell does a great job creating characters that you instantly relate to and root for. Her writing is witty and laugh-out-loud funny at times, but it's also touching and poignant. Part of me hopes that they'll be made into movies because the stories are just perfect for the big screen, but I don't want the studios to ruin them like they so often do with great books. Her most recent novel (Landline) just came out in July, so unfortunately, it looks like I'll have to wait a little while for new material, but I'll be first in line when it comes!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon Training: Weeks 9-12

Week 9: Last year, I completed one of my mid-week runs by running home from work. I loved it, so I figured I'd try it again this year. This week, I did two of my commutes via run, including my 10-mile long run for the week!

Week 10: Halfway done with training! I had a great week this week. I reunited with my group for my Wednesday night 7-miler. I skipped my 4-mile run on Thursday due to my coworker's baby shower, so I was nice and well-rested for my 15-mile long run on Saturday morning. I think this was my best long run of the season so far! The last mile was a bit rough, but I felt awesome. Our group leaders recommended doing an ice bath after this run, but considering my poor record with ice baths, I opted for a lower-body dip in chilly Lake Michigan. I think it worked because my legs felt pretty good the next day!

Week 11: To everyone who complained about the cool weather we've had all summer, I personally blame you for the weather we had this week. It was hot and very humid. I opted out of my short runs and took my mid-week 8-miler nice and slow. On Saturday morning, I nearly missed my 16-mile long run because of a parking nightmare caused by a triathlon going on at the same location. Fortunately, I made it. The first few miles were rough (and very, very sweaty), but I actually felt pretty darn good. Seeing a group of Marines out training reminded me why I'm doing this. Once again, I took a dip in the lake afterward and enjoyed some homemade puppy chow from a running buddy. I love my group.

Week 12: I've reached the point in training where my legs are always just a little bit sore. I struggled through 3.5 miles on Tuesday on still-sore legs. Wednesday, I ran 8 miles home from work. My legs were a bit sluggish for the first few miles, but once I got into the groove, I was fine. My training group had a pasta dinner on Friday night. Adam got to meet my running buddies, and the food was great. I was well-fueled for my speedier-than-normal 11 miles on Saturday.

The mileage is really starting to ramp up now, but I feel strong. I have to remember to trust the training plan and stay focused on my goal. Race day will be here before I know it, and I'm looking forward to crossing that finish line.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Running for Team USO

As you know, I will be running the Marine Corps Marathon on October 26th in Washington, DC. I've been training hard, and now I have one more reason to help get me out of bed at 5:30 on Saturday mornings: I'm the newest member of Team USO.

I had a great experience running last year for the American Heart Association and wanted to get involved with a charity again this year. Because my brother is a Marine and I'm running the Marine Corps Marathon, it seemed fitting to choose a military-related charity.

After a race with my favorite Marine

Most people think of Bob Hope when they think of the USO. While entertaining our troops is a big part of the USO's mission, they do a lot more than that. They provide support for injured troops and their families. They help troops get the education and training they need to successfully transition to civilian life. They provide international calling cards for families to get in touch with their deployed loved ones. They distribute software and audio devices that help troops deployed in Afghanistan to learn the local languages.

My goal is to raise $1,000 before I cross the starting line on October 26th. You can donate HERE. Every dollar helps, and I would sincerely appreciate anything you can give.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lately I'm Loving: Postmodern Jukebox

I love finding inventive covers of songs I already like on YouTube. There are some seriously talented and creative people out there. Recently, I discovered a few more of these talented, creative people doing something called Postmodern Jukebox.

They do covers of pop songs in different vintage styles. For example, here's a version of "Burn" by Ellie Goulding in the style of a 1960s doowop group (complete with a saxophone on fire!).

Or "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea in a 1920s big band style.

My personal favorite, though, is the cover of "Rude" by Magic. I am obsessed with this song. It already has a vintage vibe, so this 1950s style is perfection. Also perfection: the singer's voice. (Check out his version of Beyonce's "Halo" when you're done with this video.)

Any YouTube channels you love?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon Training: Weeks 5-8

Week 5: On Wednesday, I met up with my running group for 5 miles. It was nice having company, and I'm definitely going to try to make the Wednesday night meet-ups part of my schedule. On Saturday, I woke up at 6:20am. Our run starts at 6:30 a few miles from our apartment. Oops! I flew out of bed and into my clothes, ate a Pop-Tart in the car where I risked a ticket for going 65 up Lake Shore Drive and managed to catch my group at 6:35 right as they were leaving. Phew! I finished a very rainy 10 miles that felt not terrible but not great. Next week, I'll set my alarm for 5:30am instead of 5:30pm.

Week 6: Great week! I think this was the first week that I actually ran all the scheduled miles. Oops! On Wednesday, I ran 5 miles with my group. Because I was the only 10:30 group member there, I ended up running with a faster guy. We held close to a 10:00 pace for 5 miles for an accidental tempo workout. Saturday, I managed to wake up on time and got in a great 7 miles for the last single-digit long run of this training cycle. One-third of the way done!

Week 7: I started off the week with a pre-work run. That's right; I woke up early to run. It's a miracle! Thanks, 100-degree heat index! Thankfully, it cooled down for the rest of the week. My long run on Saturday was 12 miles, and it was a bit rough. My stomach felt off (we'll check BBQ off the list of things I can eat the night before a long run) and I think I was a bit dehydrated. I finished, though! On Sunday, I got a wonderful massage to work out some of the tightness I've been having in my left hip.

Week 8: I woke up Monday morning with a sore groin muscle, which prompted me to skip my Tuesday run. Wednesday's 6-miler was decent, and I woke up Thursday pain-free. Very strange. The first half of Saturday's 13-mile long run was great. I started to get tired around mile 8, though, and fell behind my group on the last mile. I stopped to get water, stretch my legs a bit, and then kept on trucking on my own. I even did the giant hill at the end! I was proud of myself for having the mental strength to keep going on dead legs. It was great practice for race day!

At this point, I'm almost half-way through training, and I feel like I'm in a good place. The runs are getting longer and more difficult, but I'm definitely getting stronger. I'd like to incorporate more cross-training. And by more, I mean any at all. I'm also working on my hydration by forcing myself to drink one glass of water every morning, one before I go to bed, at at least 2 during the day at work. Now, if only I could find a way to get rid of this persistent blister...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Report: I Am Malala

I Am Malala is the story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban when she was 15 because she stood up for the right of girls to go to school. In this book, you hear first-hand how the Taliban changed the life of Malala and her family and how she worked - and still works - to fight them and their message of hatred and intolerance.

She starts by talking about her parents and her childhood pre-Taliban. It's fascinating hearing her talk about the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan. There's a fundamental fear of anything that would allow for individuality. Women must stay inside and wear the burqa if they come out. Men must grow beards of a certain length. Everyone must wear plain clothes. No music or television is permitted. Malala says "If God wanted us all to be the same, why would he make us so different?" Why indeed.

As an American unfamiliar with the history and geography of Pakistan, I really enjoyed learning about it. Malala talks of the beauty of her hometown and the rich history of Islam. Some may be bored by this aspect of the book (and it seems to be a common criticism), but I thought it was important for the reader to have the context in which Malala's story is taking place for the storytelling to really be effective. Plus, it was a good nudge outside the Western box I occupy 99.9% of the time.

Malala's story was both heartbreaking and inspiring. It reminded me how much I take for granted every single day. Fortunately, there are people in the world like Malala, fighting the good fight for the equal rights of women and girls. She reminded me that one person's voice really can make a difference in the world. For that, I give this book an A.