Thursday, September 20, 2007

Breathe, Eyes, Memory

No, I'm not done with the Bitch, but last night right before I went to bed, something was calling to me. I looked down at my organized pile of books at my floor in between my bed and my nightstand and there it was, waiting, staring at me telling me "it's time". Time for what you ask? Time for me to read it.
I was given this book, Breathe, Eyes, Memory, as a Christmas gift 4 years ago. Four years ago was an interesting time in my life in regards to my taste in things. Sure, I still loved movies and books, but what kind I was able to handle had shifted so slightly. For about 2 years or so, I could not watch drama, or read drama. Things had to be chick lit, romantic comedy, comedy, or nothing. I always make it a point to read books I get as gifts or that have been given to me on loan, but I've also made it a habit (now) to read books when I'm ready to read them. Breath, Eyes, Memory is about a little Haitian girl that get sent to New York to live with a mother she's never known after having been raised by her auntie. The back of the books is very vague but dramatic, she discovers an awful secret . . . And as mentioned, about four years ago, I no longer wanted to continue my exploration into drama and human suffering. I'm not a political person, I hate politics really. People get so worked up. I'm sure there are many people that will argue to death with me on my points (are they politicians?) but I'm a person's person. Things strike me more when it's stories about people and their struggles, or how they've over come adversity. I'm not about measure this or measure that, I want to know how this is all going to affect people, how their lives will change. Is it for the better? So I stay out of politics. One of my strengths is also one of my biggest faults: I'm extremely empathetic to the point of drowning in other people's sorrows. I get so consumed by their problems, that I find it hard to find joy in my own life, I feel guilty. This also happens often with fiction. So until I was able to come to terms with this and move on a bit more rationally, I am finally to read books I wouldn't have been able to handle before, watch movies I might not have enjoyed before and read global news . . .
With that said, the books starts out interesting. It reminds me, for some reason, my ethnic studies courses, probably one in which I read the book A small place by Jamaica Kincaid about tourism in the carribbean and how the local suffer. It also reminds me off learning about Cuba and their sugar fields.

On a work out note, things are going well. I felt a bit under the weather this weekend, but tried hard to not fall off the horse. I ran two miles yesterday, met with my trainer today and will most likely run 3 miles tomorrow. I have my and my newphew's registration for Run Like Hell ready to go and stamp . . . sitting on my table. I forgot it, but tomorrow! Without fail, we will be signed up for the 5k and the kids half mile dash! Go Rodriguezs!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Holy Soreness, Batman

So, I failed to mention yesterday that not only had I started The Bitch in the House, but I also met with my trainer from the gym. 7 am! I used to like to come home and work out, but as of the last few years, I got used to running or working out in the early mornings to "just get it over with" and it's stuck. It's nice to just get home and unwind after a full days work and work out, and it's still fairly early. Anyway, since it was our first day together, I think we just did about a half hour of a work out, but she was pushing me. We focused on legs, upper body and abs. Abs is a big thing for me cuz I'm a complete laze about it. Anyway, after my 3 mile jog this morning, I can finally feel the repercussions of yesterday. Ouch!

It's interesting to read all the different authors in The Bitch in the House. This one I came across yesterday, I didn't particularly like. She did bring up interesting points. In her marriage, her husband is the basically the primary care taker and she has to fight with him over their daughter's attention. I find that to be a bit uncommon in most of my experiences with mothers and children, so I found her essay intriguing, but her style of writing confusing and therefore, off-putting. When I read, writers for me often fall into four categories: writers I like, writers I don't like, writers I wish I was like, and writers I think I am like. It's much like vocalist. There are singers I admire, I don't care for and the ones I think I sound like. This particular writer I was reading, I disliked. I'm not sure if it's because I might write like that and therefore, confuse my audience, or I just didn't like it. The next one however, I found myself identifying with much more with her style of writing. I'm not done with the essay yet because it was getting late, but I am looking forward to finishing it tonight before I go to bed.

I would like to dive deeper into this idea of what a woman's role is in a marriage, a partnership, motherhood, everything the book talks about, but right now I'm a) not inspired (yet), and b) this is a one sided conversation. I'm basically talking to myself. So if I do have anything interesting to point out, I let you (me) know.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Bitch is Back

And no, I am not referring to myself, or anyone I know. While I wait for my boyfriend to get back from vacation so I can borrow Soon We'll be Invincible, or get my books from the library: Feast of Love (soon to be out in theaters, filmed in Oregon) and How to Make Love like a Porn Star, the autobiography of Jenna Jameson (I'm a sucker for real like: memoirs, autobiographies), I've gone back to reading The Bitch in the House, the predecessor to The Bastard on the Couch, (thanks Kelly.)
I very much enjoyed The Bastard on the Couch. It was truly eye opening, funny, and at times moving. I expected the Bitch to be the same. But perhaps because it was the first one and mainly written by pissed-off women, it has quite a different feel, hence "pissed off" and "bitch". When I started to read this book, I was in a transitional phase in my life. I had attained a really good job in the part of town I dreamed of and therefore, moved to. Be nonce to me, I was going through an attachment phase, I was afraid of being on my own. Not necessarily living on my own, but being on my one, alone. My boyfriend had his place, my parents there's and now I have my own. I had been living with my parents for about 8 months until I finally moved out and it will most likely be the last time I'm truly taken care of. My dad is a mechanic, ok, technician as he insists, and takes care of my car. My mom, well, she's my mom. She takes care of my health, my well being, and my mental state. Not only is she my mom, she's also my best friend. I always told her, if we'd grown up together not being mother and daughter, we'd have been best friends. So, I began reading this collection of essays by working women and mothers with spouses and partners and children. Pretty safe. Then, a few of the essays dealt with deaths of parents, moms and dads and well, it just made me realize that I am in that point in my life where I have to think about it. My parents don't have *that* much longer with me and well, I will be left to fend for myself and that is terrifying to me. My friend and I cannot talk about our mothers' changes let alone their deaths, it's too overwhelming. Just noticing the new wrinkle, the new skin spot, or how their walk has slowed down, is just tear jerking. I'd start to read these essays with all the positivity in the world and hit a spot where a parent died and I'd break down. I'm not ready to think about that yet. I'm not married, I'm not "taken care of" yet, I'm not strong enough, and their deaths are just not going to happen. But the reality is that it will happen, I am strong enough, and I don't need anyone to take care of me. I live on my own, have a great job, great pay, and great co-workers. I have great friends, a great family who is also my main support system and finally, a great partner who, when the time is right and he gets his barrings, will be able to "take care of me", even though I know I can do it myself and I've already proven that I can take care of him. It's not that I need to be taken care of, I just want to know I can fall back on someone just in case. My parents have always been that unit. When my brother got divorced, he moved back in with my parents with his one year old. When my other brother couldn't find a job, he lived with my parents during the transition. When I graduated college and came back from my 6 month internship at 2 and a half moths, homesick and jobless, I moved back in with my parents. When I hit my rock bottom just last year, I moved back in with my parents again, and again, and again a million times over if anyone of us needs it.
I know this post is supposed to be about The Bitch in the House, but I wanted to explain why it has taken me so long to get through it. It made me stare a general future in a the face, one that I had been putting off thinking about because well, parents are superheroes, right? I'm finally ready to face that. Not that I'm ready for my parents to leave me. I will NEVER be ready for that! But I am ready to admit to myself that if anything were to happen, if that unit were to vanish . . . I could still do it on my own and seek help if need be. I am NOT alone and I am lucky for that. Not only do I have my brothers, I have their wives and girlfriends who would lend a helping hand. I am so so so lucky for that. If not them, I have friends who are just like family to me.
So, I'm back to reading The Bitch in the House with my new found amo. I'm ready to battle out the insecurity and the fear that overwhelms me with just one word and to tell myself, I'll be ok, I'll be ok.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I didn't realize I was about three pages away from the end last night, so I ended up finishing the book just a moment ago. One of the passages I enjoyed was:

"Only a smile. A tiny thing. A leaf in the woods, shaking in the wake of a startled bird's flight.
But I'll take it. With open arms. Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting."

And I hadn't realized how interested I was in their food. As most of my friends know, I don't branch out on food. It's either all American (pancakes, hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs, mash potatoes, turkey . . . ) or Mexican food (it's not even much a variety here really). And even then, I was extremely picky about what *kind* of Mexican food and what *kind* of American food. Chinese too has always been kind of a staple. I'm a sucker for plain white yummy rice. But now that I've become a bit more health conscious, traded white bread for whole wheat, white rice for brown, and so on. Once in a while, I'll treat myself to white rice =) The past few years, I've gotten a bit more into Thai food as well, and tried to branch out into more types of Latin American food: Cuban and Peruvian. It's interesting how the ingredients I grew up with (rice, beans, tortillas) can be done and substituted in so many different ways. Have I mentioned I also don't cook? Yeah, I'm trying to fix that, but I get bored and discouraged . . . also, I try to keep it healthy which is extra hard. Not even a year ago I had my first taste of Lebanese food. We went to a restaurant called Nicoli. I'd had hummus before and just this year I started to get really into it as an alternative to french fries at bars, "Hummas platter please" I'd tell the bar waitress. But at Nicoli, I had hummus, pita bread (omigod! why was I not introduced to this kind of pitta bread before . . . just another thing to add to my "I can't live without carbs" life!) a green salad with wonderful dressing and rice (not to spicy, I hate spice . . . yes weird, I know given my upbringing) and chicken kabobs. I think I'm a lot like my dad in that I like what I like and I don't branch out, but I think this is one place my dad would like. So I've decided I'm going to look up a few afghan recipes and see if I can't make a yummy salad dressing or learn how to make a different kind of rice or how to saute my chicken with different flavors. In the book they always talked about tea, and cauliflower or another vegetable to accompany rice or pita. I want to learn. I want to learn how to make vegetables yummy, how to add to a main dish.
Man, I should call this "she reads, she runs, she writes, she eats!"


I ran three miles yesterday! Yay me! I did it in 35 minutes, which means I've got to at least shave off 5 minutes of that, more if I've improved. It's actually one of my favorite runs. I take Lovejoy, go over the Broadway bridge then back. It makes me feel like I'm actually going somewhere. It's not too hill, but does have a slight incline. I'm glad I made myself go because honestly, it was 93 degrees outside and I knew I hadn't had enough water, so I really need to be careful.
After the run, I cooled down a bit with some water and made dinner. I was kind of rushing to get out the door so I don't think I ever really cooled down and at the concert with the AC, I got extremely cold, so once again, I have to really be careful with how my body temperature is doing.
On the Kite Runner side, I am so close to being done. I read a little bit after I got home from the concert and didn't want to put it down, but I also wanted to get more sleep than the night before. I might have to sneak in some reading here at work when I can ;)

One of the passages I found this time around that I liked was:

"I sat by his bed until he fell asleep. Something was lost between Sohrab and me. Until my meeting with the lawyer, Omar Faisal, a light of hope had begun to enter Sohrab's eyes like a timid guest. Now the light was gone, the guest had fled, and I wondered when it would dare return."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming

So, I did most of my reading last night before bed! So I didn't get to bed until midnight which means . . . no running. Yesterday my plan was to run about 5 miles through forest park, but for some reason, these past few days have been very tiring. I'm not sure if it's lack of sleep (it hasn't changed that dramatically) or what I'm eating, so I gotta start to focus on that as well. I'm hoping once I get home, I can go for a 3 mile run before I made dinner, shower, and head out to see a concert at 8pm.

Kite Runner. Wow. I feel like I hiked up a hill and am rolling down it fast. The first half of the book was good, a lot of information and a lot of background. But once Amir has grown up, things start to roll. I know fiction is based on some truths, just not specific ones and what I read in this book is scary and saddening. I hope to not sound ignorant. I try and be as open minded to different cultures because I have grown up in one different than the one I have been raised and have been trying (successfully now that I'm older) to merge the two. I understand that ignorance can lead to fear, which can lead to violence (thankfully, nothing I have ever experienced.) Living in the US has giving me a chance to feel safe, have a cushion and be proud of how I was raised and my beliefs. I'm sure I'm not making any sense right now, but what I'm trying to say is how horrible it must feel to live in a place you do not believe in, or return to a home you no longer recognized. There are a few passages in the book that I liked, specifically those of when Amir returns to Afghanistan for the first time since he's left. I'll try to find those in later entries.
That was the bulk of what I was reading last night. I could not put the book down. I wanted to know more, what was going to happen and still I am not satisfied because I made myself go to sleep!

So today, I will try to budget my time so that I can fit in a bit of running before I head out. My "intermediate" 5k training is not going so well, but I hope that once I see my trainer on Thursday, and I'll get on the ball and "just keep swimming, just keeps swimming . . . "


On a super side note, my copy of Finding Nemo has been located. It's one of my favorite movies, one that I can pop in when I'm feeling sad and just smile. So finally, I have it at home and I plan on watching it very soon!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Run like Hell

So I decided that I wasn't motivated to run. I'm usually good when I have a set goal and period of time (example:races). So I looked at my calendar to find out when the Run Like Hell Halloween 5k is . . . 8 weeks away! So, I'm a little behind on training (by just a few days) so there it is, my goal. On October 21st, a Sunday, I will "Run Like Hell" hopefully with my nephew, I've yet to ask him.
I usually use Hal Higdon's trainings for my 5ks and 8ks because they are simple and easy to follow, especially the novice ones. This time, since I can actually run three miles ok, I decided to do his intermediate training that has me resting 2 times a week but running more miles and faster on different days in order to improve my time. So that coupled with a trainer at the gym and eating healthy, the way I should and I know how to, I should be able to shed a few pounds and have 3 miles feel like three minutes, right? Hee hee.
So today, three miles it was. Technically, it was 2.95 miles . . . but I'll take it. I mapped my run on the website and headed out of the house, walkmen in hand and credit card. Usually on days I have to get pastries for clients at work, I take a long our company credit card and map my runs around the surrounding bakeries. Today's lucky bakery was Three Lions on NW 23rd. So instead of running through the thick of NW, I decided to head over the river. I took Lovejoy which I recently discovered turns into the Broadway bridge then at N. Benton, I turned around and headed to 23rd approximately to NW Overton. 2.95 miles. After, it's always a nice 5 minute walk back to my house. I like having a built in cool down =)

Kite Runner is going along smoothly. Even though I liked it from the beginning, it's starting to pick up pace much faster than before. It's just interesting to read about different cultures yet at the same time, how similar we all really are.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

No Show

Reading sadly was a no show yesterday as my day got filled up by little things that had to get done and by previous plans. I had an emergency voice lesson after work which always turns into dinner with my parents. Afterward, the disappointment in my eating and my lack of running enough finally started to set in that everything after this point became a chore. I knew that if I didn't get some groceries, I'd kick myself once again about my eating and dive more hard core into horrible eating. After the grocery store, it was finally home and to the video store to rent NightWatch, a Russian film about vampires my boyfriend had wanted to see. The night ended up well enough with some good needed rest, but of course this morning, no running, no working out, all leads once again to a disappointment in my abilities to let things slide. I'll just try to get through this week and aim for the next. I look forward to continuing to read Kite Runner.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Running, working out: Day Uno

Not sure if it's the weather or the fact that I haven't ran in about 2 weeks, but today I barely did a mile and a half and I was very dissappointed. Perhaps its because I have switched from a treadmill (with a steady pace and a steady flow of tv watching) to the streets of NW portland with hills, stops, lights and traffic. Usually 2-3 miles is no big deal to me, but actually seeing how far I've run, seems to get in the way of getting through the run. I keep focusing in my head "wow, I've gone so far" but by using the handy website to actually log and figure out the miles I will run . . . it's really barely a mile when I get antsy. Not until I ran a 10k on 5 de Mayo did I realize how far 6.3 miles really was. It was quite an accomplishment really, running 6.3 miles in under an hour. I've never done anything like that, and my naive self thought it was no sweat because I really didn't *know* how far that was. I guess ignorant is bliss in times like that, because now? I'm extremely intimidated my the miles I think I should be running and the miles don't end up running. So the solution? I've got a gym membership again. Now with the fall quietly knocking on summer's door for a slow switch out, I realize it's time to be indoors to do most of my work out and hit the treadmill among other things. I still hope to run 5-10ks through the rest of the year, and my goal would be to do the run in 10k up in Canada around my birthday. It looks absolutely beautiful and really, I do love to run outside, but unfortunately now, I'm just too focused on how much I'm running rather than just letting my body tell me how much I can run.
So todays 1.6 miles was a bit of a disappointment, but at least I ran, right? There is something exhilirating about getting up so early, running and coming home to wash yourself clean, like a daily cleansing of unwanted, guilty calories.
Tomorrow? Hit the gym, do some weights. That is the goal . . . gotta stick with it. Not sure if I mentioned it but I look forward to the Run Like Hell 5k, Hopefully my 12 year old nephew would like to join me. Someday, I hope to run the Hood to Coast. All of this . . . before my poor knees give out.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Kite Runner: More than halfway through

So far, I have been enjoying Kite Runner and I must say, I was right to say it is quite intense. Now, I'm not sure if I want to see the movie because of some of the most poignant scenes I know have include. It's tough to read and will be even harder to watch.
I've gotten a bit upset at myself for not knowing enough about world history, specifically that of the Middle East. Obviously, what is going on in the book right now is related to the war and what is currently going on in the Middle East with Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Sunni and Shiats, (sorry for any misspellings). But like any child of history, I want to learn more and I want to know why. Growing up, my family and I lived in a very diverse apartment complex. My father frequently got mistaken for an Iraqi and had to convince other Iraqi and Iranians that he was in fact Mexican. Over those 5 years living at the apartments I came across thee Iraqi families, one Iranian and an Egyptian, so some of the language in the book is surprisingly familiar. Many families used to speak of the wealth they had and about having escaped. I was too young then, 5-9 years old, to really understand what they spoke of. Now reading this book, I realized their story is just one of many Middle Eastern families that immigrated to the US, reduced to gas attendants or quickie mart store owners. Huge generalizations, yes, I know, but all these memories are flooding back into my thoughts with a new layer of understanding and a re-newed want for learning about a history that is not my own.
And as for running? Well, I haven't started up yet, but I plan on running the 5k on Halloween with my nephew.